Introduction

There are a couple of interesting developments in this launch that we would like to take the time to point out first. It is well worth noting that the 7300 GS will not launch first in the USA. We recently saw an Asia first launch from ATI as well, and NVIDIA cites the Chinese New Year as their reason for shifting things around. Parts aren't slated to start showing up state-side for a couple of weeks, and while we aren't getting the same style of hard launch that we are used to seeing, we will certainly be checking to make sure that we can find parts in Asian markets.

The "hard" launch is something that we don't want to let slip into oblivion. While on this side of the world, we essentially have a paper launch, yet we are at least thankful that parts will be available somewhere (China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan). The logical end to the push for hard launches will eventually build to the point where we will want to see global availability at launch, but managing logistics on that level is out of reach for now. Generally, with a US hard launch, we get availability where the largest demand is centered. If NVIDIA really thinks that this part will sell amazingly well in Asia, then maybe launching there first is the right thing to do. At the same time, with the US having enjoyed the benefit of NVIDIA hard launches for so long, this move leaves us scratching our heads.

At the same time, we were just notified of this launch yesterday and we don't yet have parts to test. These two factors contribute to the reason why we are bringing out this brief overview article rather than an in-depth investigation. Usually, even if a part is launching elsewhere, we will have something to test, but budget parts like this can often slide under the radar. NVIDIA attributed the fact that they opted not to seed reviewers with cards to the common lack luster reviews for extreme budget hardware. While it is true that it's easier to get really excited about the "bigger, better, faster" of the high end market, the budget segment is one of the absolute most important. For this reason, either we must be a little concerned about the lack of importance placed on this chip or we must start to worry that there are other reasons why we don't have parts and heard about the card so late.

Why are good cheap cards necessary? Because many game developers write software for the least common denominator. The worst thing for gaming out right now is the poor feature set (and huge market share) of Intel's integrated graphics. When game developers can completely leave behind older techniques and move on to completely shader driven architectures featuring full floating point content, we will truly start to see the potential of programmable hardware mature. Even now, most developers are simply pasting some "cool effects" into games written around stale fundamental graphics architectures and most current HDR lighting is a hack that works around not having HDR artwork.

Fast, feature rich, and cheap are the three ingredients necessary for ATI and NVIDIA to help get game developers excited about pushing the limits of their craft. After all, no one wants to spend time pouring their heart and soul into something if the majority of people who buy it won't get the full experience. And here's to cards like the 7300 GS continuing the trend of raising the bar for budget parts. Now all we really need is for Intel to care about putting performance and quality into their graphics hardware.

We are quite interested in getting our hands on the GeForce 7300 GS in order to put it through its paces and see how NVIDIA's newest sub $100 part fairs. We are expecting some pretty good things as the new part combines the features of the 7 series parts at a nice low price point. The major upgrade from the 6200 series is that this part supports floating point framebuffer blends (the 6200 series was the only line of 6 series parts not to support this feature). FP16 framebuffer blends are becoming increasingly attractive to game developers who want to implement HDR lighting, and the 128 to 256 MB of RAM the 7300 GS will carry on board is plenty.

Let's take a look at what else the new 7 series part will have to offer.

What's Under The Hood?
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  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    NVIDIA products hardlaunched in the past year and a half:

    Go 6800 Ultra (yes, it all started with a notebook launch)

    GeForce 7800 GTX

    GeForce 7800 GT

    Go 7800

    GeForce 6800 GS

    GeForce 7800 GTX 512 was available on launch day in limited quantities and sold out fast ... so we'll count it as half a hard launch ...

    ... and that's just off the top of my head. There are probably others that slipped my mind.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Yes, worldwide hardware launches are more difficult than software launches ... But thanks for sticking up for us :-)

    As I said, we don't currently expect worldwide availability. That's just the direction we are headed.
    Reply
  • peldor - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    I don't think we're headed toward hard launches for everything. Financially it's not that great for the companies. They have to build up supplies for weeks or months, which leaves money tied up in products in a warehouse. Or the manufacturing facilities have to be built to over capacity which makes even less sense. On the high-end, low-volume parts this should be easier, but on the low-end, not so much.

    Market timing will continue to be a huge part of the decision to paper launch vs hard launch.
    Reply
  • Phiro - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Diablo: II had a simultaneous worldwide launch.

    Star Wars: Episode 3 "Revenge Of The Sith" had a simultaneous worldwide launch.

    Fantastic Four had a simultaneous worldwide launch.

    Reply
  • Phiro - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Troy was simultaneous. The Frozen Throne expasion for WC3 was simultaneous. The Pretendo Revolution is planned on being simultaneous.

    Bobby Fisher's new chess game was simultaneous.

    Red Alert 2 was simultaneous.

    Steam releases from Valve are simultaneous.

    Apple's Tiger release was simultaneous.
    Reply
  • Phiro - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    ATI maintains to this day that the 9500 & 9700 release and then three months later the PRO release were both simultaneous worldwide launches. Reply
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Without forcing manufacturers to hard launch, they're going to pull shit like the 6800 Ultra Extreme, the X1800XT, and other such launches where they'll announce a product just to steal another company's thunder, and then potentially never release it, fail to release it in decent quantities, or announce a product so far out that we start talking about things that are still a gleam in the eyes of a VHDL. The only solution to this problem is to pressure companies in to hard launching, as they can not commit these abuses if they actually need to have the product ready to go. Gamers deserve real products with real specifications and real benchmarks, so that they know what to buy; soft launches are nothing more than a method of spreading FUD to hurt one's opponent and eventually the gamers themselves. Reply
  • ElFenix - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    no, that's vaporware. not 'soft launches.' the problem isn't that the product comes out a week or two later in large quantities, it's that it never comes out (ultra extreme) or comes out in such a trickle that it isn't available anywhere unless you're really lucky (xt pe, gtx 512). the beef was and always has been with vaporware. yes, the 'hard launch' is a way to fix it, but it brings its own downside. Reply
  • Jep4444 - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    doesnt even solve the problem, the GTX512 was hard launched and its still nearly impossible to find Reply
  • OrSin - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    On board video for ATI Xpress and NV 6100's are more theng ood enought for most business applications and family video games (Wheel of fortune type). Thie card has no place. Most real games this card can't do anything.

    This quote "Because many game developers write software for the least common denominator" is just not true. Most of the huge selling "real" game of last year, you needed to upgrade your card to play. I say real because I'm not including game like the Sims. But even if include the market for games like the Sims, this card is once again not need when on board video will do. If you not paying $150 and up for card you might was well stick with on board video.
    Reply

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