A very smart man at Intel once told me that when designing a microprocessor you can either build a new architecture, or move to a smaller manufacturing process, but you don't do both at the same time. The reason you don't do both is because it significantly complicates the design, validation and manufacturing processes - you want to instead limit the number of variables you're changing in order to guarantee a quick ramp up and good yields of your silicon.

NVIDIA followed this rule of thumb with the GT200, building its "brand new" (or at least significantly evolved) architecture on a tried-and-true 65nm process instead of starting at 55nm. Despite AMD building both RV670 and the new RV770 GPU on TSMC's 55nm process, NVIDIA hadn't built anything on a smaller than 65nm process, including the 1.4 billion transistor GT200.

Shortly after the GT200 launched, AMD "responded" with its Radeon HD 4850, a cheap card by comparison, but a far more interesting one from a practical performance standpoint. Priced at $199 and selling for as little as $170, the Radeon HD 4850 managed to invalidate most of NVIDIA's product line. In response, NVIDIA dropped the price of its GeForce 9800 GTX to $199 as well and introduced one more card: a $229 GeForce 9800 GTX+.

Originally we thought the GTX+ was a silly last minute afterthought as it looked like nothing more than an overclocked 9800 GTX. While its clock speeds are higher, it also happens to be the very first 55nm NVIDIA GPU. The specs are as follows:

  9800 GTX+ 9800 GTX
Stream Processors 128 128
Texture Address / Filtering 64 / 64 64 / 64
ROPs 16 16
Core Clock 738MHz 675MHz
Shader Clock 1836MHz 1690MHz
Memory Clock 1100MHz 1100MHz
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 512MB 512MB
Transistor Count 754M 754M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 65nm
Price Point $229 $199


The core clock went up 9.3%, shader clock went up 8.6% and memory clock stayed the same. The clock speed bumps are marginal and by far the more interesting aspect of the chip is how much less power it consumes thanks to its 55nm process, which thanks to AMD should be quite mature by now.

Here's the full NVIDIA lineup:

  GTX 280 GTX 260 9800 GX2 9800 GTX+ 9800 GTX 8800 GTS 512 8800 GT
Stream Processors 240 192 256 128 128 128 112
Texture Address / Filtering 80 / 80 64 / 64 128 / 128 64 / 64 64 / 64 56 / 56 56 / 56
ROPs 32 28 32 16 16 16 16
Core Clock 602MHz 576MHz 600MHz 738MHz 675MHz 650MHz 600MHz
Shader Clock 1296MHz 1242MHz 1500MHz 1836MHz 1690MHz 1625MHz 1500MHz
Memory Clock 1107MHz 999MHz 1000MHz 1100MHz 1100MHz 970MHz 900MHz
Memory Bus Width 512-bit 448-bit 256-bit x 2 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 896MB 1GB 512MB 512MB 512MB 512MB
Transistor Count 1.4B 1.4B 1.5B 754M 754M 754M 754M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm
Price Point $650 $400 $500 $229 $199 $280 $170 - $230


Notice something very wrong? The 8800 GTS 512 and 8800 GT both need to drop in price significantly, they are simply uncompetitive at their current price points. I expect one of those two products to go the way of the dodo but it's unclear which one; the 8800 GT is cheaper to make, but perhaps it's easier to produce 65nm parts with 128 SPs so the GTS 512 could stick around at a lower price point as well.

The GeForce 9800 GTX+ will be available starting July 16th.

How much power does 55nm save?
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  • pishers - Thursday, June 26, 2008 - link

    in the UK it is possible to get an hd 4870 for less than an overclocked 9800gtx that runs the same values as the gtx+, and the 9800gtx+ is more the £100 more than the hd 4850 that is the one it competes with! does anyone else think nvidia have dropped the ball with this one?

    if i was to buy a new card i wouldnt even consider an nvidia one at this point in time.
  • bill3 - Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - link

    You didn't tell me the most basic things like what settings the games are at. Crysis runs at 31.3 with 9800GTX+ I see at 1600X1200, but wait, what settings? What DX version? This is pitiful guys. Just pitiful. The most basic of information lacking.

    And another thing, stop benching at 1600X1200 and use 1680X1050, like everybody on earth's widescreen LCD is. Using basic common LCD res's seems like another no-brainer to me.

    And what's with giving me a graph of one uber high res at one setting for each game, instead of several?

    Anand GPU reviews have gone way downhill, guys. Funny, a chinese site leaked a 4870 review yesterday, and there review was actually more complete and thorough than almost any western site posts these days. More benches, more games, more resolutions, actually listing the settings (crazy idea), and extremely handy summary % +/- comparisons with all major competing cards. From the major western sites now (Tom's, FS, etc) we tend to get spotty reviews each with major flaws.
  • arkcom - Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - link

    Notice, this is a PREVIEW.
  • bill3 - Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - link

    My complaints apply to all Anandtech recent reviews, basically that aren't handled by Anand himself. If you read them you might notice such things as omitting tested game settings are the norm.

    Although, I was wrong about the 1680X1050 thing. I noticed that the other multi-line graph does have 1680X1050. Although 16X12 shouldnt be the main bar graph spotlighted on the page imo by the same token.

    I just prefer each game tested at maybe 3 resolutions and those printed as bar graphs rather than the way AT has gone to the line graphs. I know they claim the latter provide more information, but I just think they aren't easy to read enough. And there's really no use for them, they're already printing one bar graph and the second line graph, so what, they're saving one graph per page? big deal.

    AT has a lot of good points no doubt, their bar graphs are the boldest and easiest to read bar none. It's amazing how many sites print a bar graph with the cards represented by 14 subtly different shades of the same color and expect you to read it. AT also dont typically clutter up the graphs with 40,000 different cards and all manner of annoying CF/SLI/3way SLI/kitchen sink crap either ( I believe they seperated multigpu in the 4800 review) like some sites. OTOH some AT reviews dont contain enough benched cards imo..
  • bill3 - Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - link

    But one thing I really find handy is the +/- percent comparison to competitors charts you see in some reviews. I notice Tom's is one site that sometimes does this lately. I really like that.
  • anonymous x - Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - link

    well, the only game i play from that list is crysis, and the 9800 GTX outperforms the ati... well, I guess i'll have to make the plunge to ati now, my 7950 GT can't play any game now at max settings
  • msgclb - Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - link

    The amazing thing I noticed is that the 8800 GT SLI is #2 to the 9800 GX2 in most games and falling to #3 a couple of times when the GTX 280 happens to break into the top 2 positions. It looks like if you own the GTX 280 you need to play Enemy Territory where it's #1 except at 1680x1050 and also a couple of other games where it is in the #1 position at 2560x1600.

    The question that I would like answered is will any of these new cards scale the way the single 8800 GT does going to 8800 GT SLI? The more I look at these and other benchmarks the more I'm inclined to stay with my 8800 GT SLI.

    Maybe it's time to jump ship to the 4870 CF!
  • cmdrdredd - Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - link

    How come in the crysis graph the 9800 GX2 gets ~48fps at 1600x1200

    and then further down at 1280x1024 none of the listed cards are near that speed and it's a lower resolution.
  • marone - Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - link

    ATI to Nvidia: Im at ur base, ste@ling your customers
  • Final Destination II - Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - link

    Last week I wanted to settle for a 9600GT.

    Scrap that!
    I won't go away with anything else but a HD4850 + better cooler!

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