Generally, you don't see many products released in December. It's getting a little too late to make dramatic impacts on Q4 earnings as many have already done their holiday shopping. If a company is going to release a new product this late in the year, there's generally a good reason for it, or it's simply a product we'll never see.

At the end of October NVIDIA introduced its GeForce 8800 GT, based on a brand new 65nm GPU codenamed G92. The 8800 GT quickly outclassed virtually every NVIDIA GPU, making most of the G80 lineup obsolete by offering better performance at lower prices. A higher end incarnation of the 8800 GT's G92 was inevitable, we just didn't expect to see it this soon.

The GPU is the same, we're still looking at a G92 derivative part, but the card is all new: the GeForce 8800 GTS 512.


A dual-slot G92, the larger heatsink keeps this card a bit cooler than the 8800 GT but with no increase in sound

While NVIDIA is in a better position than AMD is these days, NV marketing could stand to learn from AMD's recent changes. The Radeon HD 3800 series carry no tacky suffixes, just four digit model numbers to keep things nice and simple. Not only is the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 absurdly long, it also further complicates the 8800 product line. If you'll remember back to our 8800 GT review, the 8800 GT is faster than the old G80 based 8800 GTS. The new 8800 GTS 512 is faster than the 8800 GT, and thus faster than both the 320MB and 640MB versions of the old GTS. So you end up with the following lineup today:

8800 Ultra > 8800 GTS 512 > 8800 GTX > 8800 GT > 8800 GTS 640 > 8800 GTS 320

Confusing to say the least, but if you can forget about all of the other products on the market you'll see that there are only two NVIDIA cards to be concerned with: the 8800 GTS 512 and the 8800 GT.


Form Factor 8800 Ultra 8800 GTX 8800 GTS 8800 GTS 512 8800 GT 256MB 8800 GT 8600 GTS
Stream Processors 128 128 96 128 112 112 32
Texture Address / Filtering 32 / 64 32 / 64 24 / 48 64 / 64 56 / 56 56 / 56 16 / 16
ROPs 24 24 20 16 16 16 8
Core Clock 612MHz 575MHz 500MHz 650MHz 600MHz+ 600MHz+ 675MHz
Shader Clock 1.5GHz 1.35GHz 1.2GHz 1.625GHz 1.5GHz+ 1.5GHz+ 1.45GHz
Memory Clock 1.8GHz 1.8GHz 1.6GHz 1.94GHz 1.4GHz - 1.6GHz 1.8GHz

2.0GHz

Memory Bus Width 384-bit 384-bit 320-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Frame Buffer 768MB 768MB 640MB / 320MB 512MB 256MB 512MB 256MB
Transistor Count 681M 681M 681M 754M 754M 754M 289M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 90nm TSMC 90nm TSMC 90nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 80nm
Price Point $600 - $800+ $500 - $600 $270 - $450 $349+ $219 - $229 $299 - $349 $140 - $199

 

Architecturally, the 8800 GTS 512 adds another group of 16 shader processors over the 8800 GT. We'd suspect that the 8800 GT has the same number of SPs, but with one block of 16 disabled to increase yields.

Since it's based on G92 we get a 1:1 ratio between texture address and texture filtering, giving the GTS 512 the first leg up over the much more expensive 8800 Ultra. With a 650MHz core clock and 1.625GHz shader clock, the GTS 512 has an 8% shader processing advantage over the Ultra.

The only area where the 8800 GTS 512 loses to the 8800 Ultra is in its total memory bandwidth. The 8800 Ultra, like the 8800 GTX, features a 384-bit wide memory bus while the GTS 512 uses the same 256-bit memory interface from the 8800 GT. There are definite cost advantages to going with a 256-bit memory bus; NVIDIA can build a smaller chip with fewer pins, and make up for the loss in memory bandwidth by shipping the card with faster memory devices. Despite the 1.94GHz memory data rate on the 8800 GTS 512, the 8800 Ultra and GTX have around a 40% memory bandwidth advantage, resulting in better performance in memory bandwidth limited scenarios and high resolution AA tests.

Despite being built on a 754M transistor die, the move to 65nm has made G92 much smaller and thus cheaper to make than G80, which is why we're seeing NVIDIA eagerly replacing its 8800 lineup with G92 variants.

Pricing and Availability

With the disappointing aftermath of the 8800 GT launch, we're better prepared to analyze expectations for what will happen with the 8800 GTS 512. Keep in mind that the 512MB 8800 GT is supposed to be a $250 part, but in reality it's selling for around $300 in the US. The GTS 512 is expected to sell for $299 - $349, but we're already hearing from manufacturers that prices will be much higher.

The XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512 at reference clocks will carry an MSRP of $349, and the overclocked XXX edition will sell for $379. The GTS 512 could possibly sell at $349, but we wouldn't be too surprised to see it priced even higher in the market given its close proximity to the 8800 GT.

The 8800 GT 256MB: Here at Last
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  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - link

    So the GTS 512 vs the Ultra. The GTS does 26/47 watts less. What's the voltage, 1.5V? So the Ultra draws 17/31 amps more? That's a lotta current. Reply
  • TheRealMrGrey - Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - link

    The authors of this review failed to comment on the fact that the 8800 GT 512MB is still under stocked and out of stock just about everywhere! Yeah, it's a really great card, but no one can purchase it! So what's the point? Just to make all those people who already have one feel good? Blah!
    Reply
  • Mgz - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    so you compare an overclock version of the 8800 GT 256 MB vs the default NO OC HD 3850 and HD 3870 ? at least to make it fair you could compare to an OC version of HD 3850/3870 or compare the non-XXX version to the default clock 3800.

    =(
    Reply
  • just4U - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    I didn't realize they were comparing stock to overclocked. If they were then it's the only oversight in the review. Well done Anand, Finally a review of the 8800GT 256Meg I don't take with half a pound of salt...

    ... Maybe just a dash tho! ;)
    Reply
  • LRAD - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    My LCD is 1440 x 900 and it is dissapointing to see so much concern for the high resolutions only. For instance, would a 256 meg solution be fine in the near future for that res? The article beats us over the head with the fact that 256 megs is not enough, but at a lower resolution, might it be? Reply
  • redly1 - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the bar charts at the end. That somehow summed it up for me. Glad to see the power consumption comparison in there too. Reply
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - link

    to be honest i really really like the line graphs more, don't really see what's more clear with the bar graphs

    guess it's a never ending debate
    Reply
  • Zak - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    I want a high end $500-600 monster that's at least twice as fast as my current 8800GTX that can play Crysis on 24" screen with reasonable framerates:( I'm thinking about getting another GTX and go SLI but I hear some games, Crysis in particular, don't gain much from SLI. And, of course, the day I shell out $500 on another 8800GTX Nvidia will release 9800GTX or something:( Frustrating....

    Zak
    Reply
  • Bal - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    I think every FPS bar chart should have a FPS/$ overlay. You could incorporate it on all your bar charts and allows users to really compare "bang for buck" vs performance for games they are interested in without adding more graphs.. Reply
  • Bal - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    dang no edit...that was supposed to be an original post... Reply

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