What's Under the Hood?

As the title of the article implies, the GeForce 7300 is NVIDIA's very first shipping 90nm part. In order to come out with the 7800 series as early as they did, NVIDIA didn't want to try anything tricky like pushing the process envelope and moving to 90nm. Sticking with the 110nm process proved to be a good decision for NVIDIA this time around. With TSMC bringing out their 80nm process and NVIDIA just now starting to manufacture 90nm parts, it will be interesting to see who takes the next step towards smaller transistors. ATI has been pretty aggressive recently, but the 80nm process should be a fairly simple transition (as far as fabrication process transitions go), so it could go either way.

Aside from transistors with 90nm gate lengths and FP16 framebuffer blending, the 7300 will also carry NVIDIA's TurboCache technology. With relatively few vertex shaders, pixel shaders, and render outputs, a little die area can afford to be spent on beefing up caches to allow for the efficient use of higher latency system memory. This allows NVIDIA to "support" games that require more RAM than is physically present on the card. With the GeForce 7300 sporting 128MB of RAM, TurboCache allows games to treat the graphics subsystem like it has 256MB of RAM. Likewise, the 256MB version of the 7300 will look like it has a 512MB framebuffer to software.

In addition to allowing programs that require more graphics memory to run efficiently, NVIDIA is also able to cut the bandwidth to graphics memory down without taking a large performance hit. The bandwidth gained through TurboCache augments the bandwidth of onboard memory and should provide some good speed advantages for low end parts. The 128MB version of the 7300 will have a 64-bit memory bus, which is actually on the high end for TurboCache parts. It is likely that the extra RAM and onboard memory bandwidth boost in this generation of TurboCache parts is there to enable the use of memory intensive HDR features (like the FP16 blend absent from 6200 parts).

The rest of the NV4x/G70 features will also come along with this new budget part without exception. This includes NVIDIA's PureVideo features for clean DVD viewing and efficient playback of HD content, and the possibility of SLI in the future. SLI is not part of the 7300 series at launch, but, if NVIDIA's track record is any indication, we can all but guarantee SLI support. Shader Model 3 is of course supported, but with fewer pipelines, the efficiency of high end features like looping and conditional rendering will not be optimal. We should also see more efficient handling of math intensive shaders due to the 7 series ability to handle more Multiply-Adds per clock than the 6 series. Here's the full breakdown of what the GeForce 7300 brings to the table.

Budget Card Features
  Radeon X1300 GeForce 6200TC GeForce 7300
Vertex Pipelines 2 3 3
Pixel Pipelines 4 4 4
Render Outputs 4 2 2
Core Clock Speed 450 350 550
Memory Clock Speed 500 350 350
Memory Size 256-512MB 16-64MB 128-256MB
Memory Bandwidth 64-128bit 32-64bit 64bit
GPU Video Decode yes yes yes
FP16 Filter no yes yes
FP16 Blend yes no yes


Clearly, the 7300 will be able to win out over the 6200 TC in any flavor, but we will need to wait until we get our hands on a part to know exactly what flavors of X1300 it will match up against. Listed in our table is our best guess match (the vanilla X1300), but we'll try to test as many flavors as we can when we are able to do a performance comparison.

For now, we can at least take comfort in the fact that a >50% increase in core clock speed, increased memory size and bandwidth, and higher level of architectural efficiency over the 6200 TC will help make the new GeForce 7300 very competitive at a <$100 price point. While it may not get everyone's blood boiling, the 7300 is not just an exciting part for the budget market, but it will help raise the bar for the minimum target that game developers will be shooting for over the next couple of years.

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  • A554SS1N - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    Hi, just wondering when this card will be reviewed, now that 7300 cards are springing up everywhere, surely it's now possible to get hold of one?

    As far as I can tell from the very few shoddy reviews other sites have posted, it seems as though the 7300GS will probably be competition to an X600Pro and offer performance inbetween the NV43 6200 and a vanilla 6600, maybe even better in some situations where memory bandwidth isn't the promlem.

    I look forward to seeing an Anandtech review!!!!
    Reply
  • Morro - Sunday, January 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Likewise, the 256MB version of the 7300 will look like it has a 512MB framebuffer to software.

    Framebuffer?! Isn't it memory to store complete frames? As I inderstand videocard memory stores textures and data for GPU calculations.
    Reply
  • gerf - Friday, January 20, 2006 - link

    quote:

    NVIDIA's newest sub $100 part fairs.

    That'd be "fares" wouldn't it? :P

    Anywho, as a person who primarily uses his laptop, but would like a cheap-0 gaming computer, this would be ideal for me.
    Reply
  • quasarsky - Friday, January 20, 2006 - link

    whats all the fuss about? who cares about hard launches. you can buy what was a paper launch, a x800xt now easy. i'm more concerned about it being availble years later when its in the 200-250 dollar price range. I don't have the big bucks to spend on 1500+ maybe crossfire/sli combos :-D. Reply
  • Cerb - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    IGP may rule, but there are tons of gamers who don't have big wallets, and will gladly buy something like this. Unlike the GF4MX and FX5x00 (both of which were terrible, with the FX 5200/5300/5500 only being viable when it got to being about $40), I could recommend this (assuming the performance scales with the core speed) with a straight face as being moderately cheap and actually a decent value. While actual value goes up right to the 7800GT, hardly anyone has the money to put down for something like that. Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Or maybe somebody can post a link to something where I can make quick-and-easy comparisons? The cheapest and seemingly most plentiful budget card at any mainstream store such as Fry's still sadly remains the MX4000, which, if I'm not mistaken, is basically a castrated GeForce2. Truly I weep when I'm at Fry's and I see people spending $50 on these POS cards that my old GF2 GTS would beat. Yes, the 5x00 line sucked too, but I'm pretty sure even a 5200 would beat an MX4000 handily. But I can't see where Anandtech has *ever* benchmarked the MX4000. I just want some benchmarks so that I can have something solid to tell people and convince them to buy a better card. Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Saturday, January 21, 2006 - link

    Also, any chance we can get an update on the GPU and CPU cheatsheets? :) Reply
  • SUOrangeman - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Who uses VGA anymore? :) Reply
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    "Who uses VGA anymore?"

    Just about everyone uses the analog output. Just because enthusiasts are all geeked-up about DVI doesn't mean more than a small percent of the actual market uses digital.

    That said, I do agree that I'd prefer to see all cards ship with dual-DVI, and 1 DVI-VGA adapter in the box. That would add cost though, which is why this isn't common yet.

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

    how many products have ever shipped worldwide at once? none? how many graphics cards have been available on the day of launch? 2? and those within the last year? you make it sound as if 'hard launches' happen all the time, when they don't. the only thing the push for 'hard launches' is doing is pushing NDA dates back to where the manufacturer thinks they can have stock on shelves the next day. honestly, i'd much rather know a month in advance. now, true vaporware is a problem, but knowing a month in advance is not.

    and it's 'cite,' not 'site'.

    and hard launch is two words.
    Reply

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