Brute Force vs. Elegance & Finesse

Last year we saw the introduction of the GeForce2 GTS, GeForce2 Ultra and GeForce2 Pro all from NVIDIA. Not a single one of those products approached the problems inherent with high performance 3D graphics accelerators; they simply offered higher clock speeds and faster memory to make the frames fly.

This brute force approach was necessary mainly because NVIDIA was in quite intense competition with the now defunct 3dfx. Every press release they made was full of quotes of extremely high peak fill rate and memory bandwidth figures; it was a quest to see who could produce and somewhat justify the most incredibly inflated peak fill rate number without lying.

The problem was that little attention was paid to the fact that if we were all capable of attaining these incredible fill rates then we wouldn't have a problem with running at 1600 x 1200 x 32 with 4-sample FSAA enabled. The reality of it all was that even the GeForce2 GTS with its 800 Mpixels/s fill rate was only capable of a 300 Mpixels/s fill rate in a real world situation. Bottlenecked by memory bandwidth, or a lack thereof, the GeForce2 line of graphics chips failed to offer any solution to this problem of real world performance other than by simply using faster memory.

You can say that NVIDIA was in fact caught up in the idea of competing with 3dfx so much that they failed to realize that all they were doing was seeing who could build the biggest rocket without so much as a thought to efficiency.

With NVIDIA's acquisition of 3dfx, the game has changed. NVIDIA doesn't have to worry about competing on a fill rate basis with ATI because they have not been playing that game with the Radeon. If you remember, the peak fill rate of the Radeon is no more than 366 Mpixels/s and they have historically been preaching the efficiency of the Radeon rather than taking the brute force approach of the 3dfx vs. NVIDIA era.

It is this new approach to how these chips and cards are presented that is quite refreshing. And amid an increasingly dull computer hardware industry, it is a breath of fresh air courtesy a market we honestly didn't expect it from.

This is why that through the 22-page GeForce3 Press Presentation there isn't a single mention of the incredibly misleading peak fill rate numbers that have plagued this industry for so long. We've preached the idea of real-world performance countless times in our CPU reviews, now it's time to echo those sentiments in our graphics reviews.

Index Nothing more than a big Ultra?

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