GeForce 6200 TurboCache: PCI Express Made Usefulby Derek Wilson on December 15, 2004 9:00 AM EST
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Final WordsOn a technical level, we really like the TurboCache. The design solves price/performance problems that have been around quite a while. Making some real use of the bandwidth offered by the PCI Express bus is a promising move that we didn't expect to see happen this early on or in this fashion.
At launch, NVIDIA's marketing position could have been a little bit misleading. Since our review originally hit the web, the wording that will be on the packages for TurboCache products has gone through a bit of a change. The original positioning was centered around a setup along these lines:
NVIDIA has defined a strict set of packaging standards around which the GeForce 6200 with TurboCache supporting 128MB will be marketed. The boxes must have text, which indicates that a minimum of 512MB of system RAM is necessary for the full 128MB of graphics RAM support. A discloser of the actual amount of onboard RAM must be displayed as well, which is something that we strongly support. It is understandable that board vendors are nervous about how this marketing will go over, no matter what wording or information is included on the package. We feel that it's advantageous for vendors to have faith in the intelligence of their customers to understand the information given to them. The official names of the TurboCache boards will be:
GeForce 6200 w/ TurboCache supporting 128MB, including 16MB of local TurboCache
GeForce 6200 w/ TurboCache supporting 128MB, including 32MB of local TurboCache
GeForce 6200 w/ TurboCache supporting 256MB, including 64MB of local TurboCache
It is conceivable that game developers could want to use the bandwidth of PCI Express for their own concoctions. Depending on how smart the driver is and how tricky the developer is, this may prove somewhat at odds on a TurboCache chip. Reading from and writing to the framebuffer from the CPU hasn't been an option in the past, but as systems and processors become faster, there are some interesting things that can be done with this type of processing. We'll have to see if anyone comes up with a game that uses technology like this, because TurboCache could either hurt or help. We'll just have to see.
The final topic we need to address with the new 6200 TurboCache part is price. We are seeing GeForce 6200 128-bit parts with 400MHz data rate RAM going for about $110 dollars on Newegg. With NVIDIA talking about bringing the new 32MB 64-bit TurboCache part out at $99 and the 16MB 32-bit part out at $79, we see them right on target with price/performance. There will also be a 64MB 64-bit TC part (supporting 256MB) available for $129 coming down the pipeline at some point, though we don't have that part in our labs just yet.
When Anand initially reviewed the GeForce 6200 part, he mentioned that pricing would need to fall closer to $100 to be competitive. Now that it has, and we have admittedly lower performance parts coming out, we are glad to see NVIDIA pricing its new parts to match.
We will have to wait and see where street prices end up falling, but at this point the 32-bit memory bus version of the 6200 with TurboCache is the obvious choice over the X300 SE. The 32MB 64-bit 6200 TC part is also the clear winner over the standard X300. When we get our hands on the 64MB version of the TurboCache part, we'll have to take another look at how the 128-bit 6200 stacks up with it's current street price.
The GeForce 6200 with TurboCache supporting 128MB will be available in OEM systems in January. It won't be available for retail purchase online until sometime in February. Since this isn't really going to be an "upgrade part", but rather a PCI Express only card, it will likely sell to more OEM customers first any way. As budget PCI Express components become more readily available to the average consumer, we may see these parts move off of store shelves, but the majority of sales are likely to remain OEM.
AGP versions of 6600 cards are coming down the pipe, but the 6200 is still slated to remain PCI Express only. As TurboCache parts require less in the way of local memory, and thus power, heat and size, it is only logical to conclude where they will end up in the near future.
At the end of the day, with NVIDIA's revised position on marketing, leadership over ATI in performance, and full support of the GeForce 6 series feature set, the 6200 with TurboCache is a very nice fit for the value segment. We are very impressed with what has been done with this edgy idea. The next thing that we're waiting to see is a working implementation of virtual memory for the graphics subsystem. The entire graphics industry has been chomping at the bit for that one for years now.