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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  • wordsworm - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    I recall someone mentioning that 32 bit OS can only handle 4GB of memory. This can be allocated to the video card memory and motherboard memory. Seems to me that since AT is running 4GB of memory on the MB and 256, 512, and 768MB on the VC, I can't help but think this would somehow skewer the results. Am I missing something? Reply
  • Le Québécois - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    How about some tests to see how well those cards do in MultiGPU Scaling? The 8800GT 512 did pretty good but was somewhat limited by memory at higher resolution. Since the 8800GTS 512 has the same amount of memory, could we expect the same king of scaling? What about the 8800GT 256? Reply
  • EateryOfPiza - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    seconded! Reply
  • Le Québécois - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    On page 3 many of the graphs show 8800 GTX Ultra in the legend.

    At the bottom of page 4 "The 8800 GTS Ultra looks to be an average of 10% faster than the 8800 GT, is it worth the $50+ premium it'll command? Not really, the 512MB 8800 GT is still the sweet spot. Moving on..."

    Should be The 8800 GTS 512.
    Reply
  • sabrewulf - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    I'm sure you have your reasons, and I know the results would be largely similar, but I would really have preferred to see GTS512 vs GTX, as I'm sure there are far more GTX owners than Ultra owners (relatively speaking) Reply
  • Super Nade - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Guys, how about posting a few scores with the cards overclocked? After all that is why we buy these cards, right ; to extract every ounce of performance? :)

    Best wishes,

    Super Nade,
    OCForums
    Reply
  • shabby - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    From the original $200-249 the 8800gt shot up to almost $300, while the gts will be reaching for the $400 mark with the overclocked models, even the 256meg gt is priced over $200.
    Why are all these cards so far off from the msrp? It was never like this before with the gtx/ultra cards.
    Reply
  • homerdog - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    The cheapest model on Newegg right now is a stock eVGA one for $359.99, which is just outside the upper end of the MSRP. That is still a good price when viewed from the "it's almost as fast as an Ultra and faster than a GTX" perspective. Reply
  • jay401 - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Actually Anandtech's being revisionist with their pricing history.
    The original 8800GT 512MB article last month stated MSRP was $200-250. That was, to paraphrase, based on the logical inference of the article, "closer to $200 for reference clocked 512MB models and closer to $250 for high-end models".

    The 256MB model wasn't even in the shipping channels at that time and had no bearing on the pricing mentioned in the article, which was very specifically regarding the 512MB model, as that was what the review was about - the 8800GT 512MB.

    And in the first two weeks we saw them priced as low as $209 for reference models and $229 for overclocked models, further supporting the reality of that MSRP price range.

    The only reason they're as expensive as you see them today is limited supply & high demand.

    But now Anandtech wants to satisfy NVidia and help them justify maintaining the current pricing even after supply exceeds demand, which would be absurd.

    Just thought you should know the truth.

    And just so you don't think I'm some biased ATI/AMD owner, I picked up my 8800GT for $250 and am very happy with it. But I feel sorry for folks paying $300 (or more!) for a $200-250 card.
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    actually, you don't understand the fundamentals of supply and demand. The 8800GT 512MB is selling at 30 dollars over MSRP because it is just that good and worth that much. Nvidia priced it too low. The Radeon HD3850 is priced at 179 and not selling over MSRP because there is less demand due to poorer performance, especially with AA+AF.
    Reply

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