Why NVIDIA Did It

To understand the motivation behind NVIDIA's naming and renaming and renaming we have to once again look its approach to GPU design. NVIDIA continued to architect very high end GPUs and allow their technology to, over the course of 9 - 12 months, trickle down to mid range and lower end market segments. AMD stepped in and launched a very competitive performance mainstream part instead of a high end GPU, allowing it to windfall down to lower price points and market segments quicker than NVIDIA could for this generation.

Let's attach some code names shall we?

NVIDIA's flagship, the GT200 GPU used in the GTX 295, 285, 280 and 260, isn't available in a cheaper version yet. AMD's flagship, the RV770, is already more affordable and is available in cheaper versions. NVIDIA has to rely on its last generation GPU, the G92b, to compete in the rest of the market while the lower end GT200 derivatives get ready for production. Rather than continue to ship products with old names to vendors and customers, NVIDIA slaps a new name on an old GPU and hopes to at least provide the appearance of being just as agile and competitive as AMD despite being clearly caught off guard this generation.

Of course, NVIDIA has a case to make. This is their current generation of hardware, and it is practical and useful to maintain a consistent nomenclature so that the general public knows what the product positioning actually is. We agree, only our solution is top to bottom launches in line with new GPU architectures rather than simply changing the name of old parts so that they look shiny and new.

NVIDIA's take on this is also flawed in that it treats customers like idiots and underlines the fundamental issue we have. Do I need a card with a new name on it to believe that it is worthy of my purchase, or can I go read reviews comparing the hardware and learn for myself whether or not any card (regardless of the name) fills my need? Maybe this name change is for people who don't know anything about graphics hardware then. In that case the thing that "sells" the card is the simple fact that NVIDIA has convinced someone that this part is an affordable version of a card from their latest line of products. Saying they need a name change to maintain current naming is essentially admitting that the only reason the name needs to be changed is to mislead uninformed people.

NVIDIA would love to have 40nm GT200 derivatives out today. Until that day comes, we'll get cards that sound like GT200 based products.

Anyway, we haven't previously tested a 1GB 9800 GTX+, and until this announcement their prices haven't been anywhere near reasonable (currently they're up at $200, so the $50 price drop will make a big difference). There is also a slight tweak between the GTS 250 1GB and the 9800 GTX+ 1GB: the memory on the 1GB 9800+ was underclocked by about 9.1%, and the GTS 250 1GB brings clock speed back in line with the 512MB 9800 GTX+. So while the 512MB part doesn't perform any different in any way, we should no longer see any performance degradation in games that don't benefit from memory size but are memory bandwidth sensitive from moving up to 1GB.

Oh, also wide availability won't be until March 10th. Seriously.

Also, not explained until now is the way the new naming scheme will go forward. Now, GTX, GTS, GT and G (as far as we can gather) will indicate performance segment. The number will be the model number and within a performance segment, higher is better. Essentially NVIDIA has swapped the meaning of letters and numbers in their naming. They have also clearly told us that naming will no longer be attached to GPU architecture, but that vendors may somehow still indicate architecture on the box if they so choose. If nothing else, the feature list and specifications will be a guide. Here's to requiring that people read the fine print to know what they're buying.

For What it's Worth

Early last week Charlie over at The Inquirer posted a story saying that a number of reviewers were cut out of the GeForce GTS 250 launch. We felt a bit hurt, by the time the story launched we weren't even asked to be briefed about the GTS 250. Cards had already gone out to other reviewers but we weren't on any lists. Oh, pout.

Magically, a couple of days after Charlie's article we got invited to a NVIDIA briefing and we had a GTS 250 to test. Perhaps NVIDIA was simply uncharacteristically late in briefing us about a new GPU launch. Perhaps NVIDIA was afraid we'd point out that it was nothing more than a 9800 GTX+ that ran a little cooler. Or perhaps we haven't been positive enough about CUDA and PhysX and NVIDIA was trying to punish us.

Who knows what went on at NVIDIA prior to the launch, we're here to review the card, but for what it's worth - thank you Charlie :)

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  • KayKay - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    on the "Final Words" page

    Loses != Looses
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, March 05, 2009 - link

    "Loses" is correct. What are you saying? Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    Maybe the author already edited the article and the OP was pointing out an actual error that was there. I've seen that happen often enough, why would I fall into that trap.. I guess so many people write "looser" and "loose" that it was perfectly believable to me that he really was assuming those forms were correct. oops. I hope. Reply
  • Proteusza - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Brilliant segment, nice PR backfire for Nvidia.

    As I see it, the 1GB version of this card might be good enough to buy on its own merits - it stands up well to the 4850, while having lower power consumption and more video memory (which helps with some resolutions and AA combinations). That being said, a rehash is still a rehash, and its... somewhat surprising to see that nvidia doesnt have a proper GT 200 series mainstream GPU out yet. I guess it could show just how off balance they are from the 4870 and 4850 - you can see a mile away that they did not expect such good performance to be available for such a low price.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    It's funny, I think just about the opposite. It's not strange threre is no GT200 mainstream part, as there is no hole to fill, and it is strictly a high end GPU.
    What you have to finally realize, to understand, is that the best core of the red rooster crew IS the 4850.
    IT IS IDENTICAL TO THE 4870 IN EVERY WAY EXCEPT IN THE MEMORY AND CLOCKS.
    So the real issue is, the ATI CORE CANNOT COMPETE WITH THE GT200 CORE. IT CAN ONLY TRY BY DDR5 MEMORY, and even then it falls short.
    Look at it this way - a 4870 minus the ddr5 IS the 4850. Take the top ati core with ddr3, and the top nvidia core with ddr3, both at a gig ram and same clocks.
    YOU GOT THE 280 OR 285 (GT200) STOMPING THE ATI CORE INTO THE DIRT.
    In the "midrange" (depending on what crazy range that entails for the red rooster fanboi) - the 4850 VS the 9800 flavors - here we see the 4850 top ati core with 512 ram is struggling to keep up with the over 2 years old nvidia core 250 (92b/80 for the whiners).
    So, there is NO REASON for a "midrange" GT200 other than tech geek instatiable curiosity.
    How would nvidia position the GT200 midrange part ? If it's below the GTX260/192, it crunches into the 9800GTX flavors - if below that - the 8800 88gs and the like...
    SEE THE RED ROOSTERS HAVE THEIR INSANE, FRANKLY NUTBALL IDEA THAT THERE IS ROOM FOR A LOWER GT200.
    NO SIR, the GT200 is the 285 AND IT STOMPS EVERY SINGLE CORE ATI HAS EVEN WHEN THAT 4850 CORE IS STUFFED ABOUT WITH NVIDIA GT200 CORE DOESN'T HAVE IT DDR5 IN THE FORM OF THE 1 GIG 4870 OVERCLOCKED !
    So, it's really clear to me, the fanboys are spreading so much CRAP, they have otherwise intelligent persons confused and babbling stupidities.
    Forget all their BS, and take a CLEAR VIEW.
    The BEST CORE ati has to offer is 100% there and enabled on the 4850, and only ddr5 and massive clocking gets it to the 4870, which still can't touch the DDR3 gt200 - it DOESN'T EVEN TOUCH IT.
    The GT200 with DDR5 would "ABSOLUTELY DESTROY UTTERLY THE 4870".
    Nvidia CANNOT put such a tremendous CORE into a mid range low product unless they DUPLICATE the 9800 series, and it would be IMMENSE DUNCERY.
    That must be why the idiot red roosters keep calling for it.
    Like Derek, a supposed "reviewer".
    No, he's a foolish red fanboy joke.
    Yeah, I'm sick of the STUPIDTY.
    The 4850 core goes in the 4830 because it's a lower end core, on par with the g92, NOT CAPABLE OF COMPETING WITH THE GT200.
    How many times do I have to REPEAT IT, before the zombie repeat bot FUD and the total bs CRAP by "intelligent commenters" and "reviewers" - STOPS !
    Gosh, the GT200 with DDR5 huh - no how about the G92/9800GTX with DDR5 - gueess what ? THAT'S EQUIVALENT TO A 4870 !
    THINK ! THINK ! THINK ! TIME TO THINK !
    Go look at the ATI gpu core charts here - then THINK about what I'm RANTING on !
    Thanks if this helps you at all.
    If it doesn't actually help the red rooster crazed liars, well then there is no help for you.
    Reply
  • Galid - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    First of all, you sound like a nvidia fanboy, when you get mad, you've gotta be a fanboy. No offense, but there's no clear point of view from someone that already chose a side. I owned both nvidia and ATI gpus in my life having problems and good days with both. I remember the drivers problems from ati and I remember my 6800gt with nforce2 chipset incompatibility or my 7900gt that burnt twice.

    Ati never wanted to compete with the higher end parts of GT200 they wanted to take on the midstream graphic processer which they did pretty well. Ati touches one of nvidia gt200 core(the gtx260) with it's radeon 4870 and everyone knows it, that's what heppened since it got first tested on anandtech. For a much lower price BTW. Yes 4850 is the best part bang for the bucks from ati but when you gotta choose between gtx260 or 4870, the price speaks by itself.

    You forgot the 4850x2, ok it'S not being produced a lot which is weird considering it's some of the most interesting part from ati. kills completely gtx280 for a lower price?!?

    That move from nvidia was clearly the best. you'Re right about that. Getting the best bang for the bucks part is an achievement in itself. They did it but quite poorly. Now they have the best of the best and quite the best bang for the bucks unless that radeon4870 for 150$ happens.

    So it's ok if you wanna have the best perf whatever the price, it's a no brainer. But competition is good, it keeps prices down, red rooster dies it's gonna be bad for us.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    " You forgot the 4850x2, ok it'S not being produced a lot which is weird considering it's some of the most interesting part from ati. kills completely gtx280 for a lower price?! "

    Is that a question or a statement ? You don't really know. You don't really want to fight x-fire either - with still NO GAME PROFILES - NO FORCING, STILL BELOW TWO TWO GTS250 BECAUSE OF THAT - AND MORE EXPENSIVE- CHECK THE EGG LIAR!
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Ahh, yeah since you're obviously a liar here's your big problem, proof of that !

    RE: value?? by SiliconDoc, 14 hours ago
    The cheapest 4870 1G at the egg right now is 194.99 + shipping and they go up well over $200 from there -

    The cheapest GTX260/216 at the egg right now is 179.99 + shipping.
    __________________________________-


    Now let's look further - in order ! (second # after rebate)
    4870 1g
    199.99
    199.99/169.99
    199.99/179.99
    214.99/194.99
    234.99/209.99
    239.99/214.99

    GTC260/216
    189.99/159.99
    208.99/189.99
    212.99/177.99
    229.99/199.99
    232.99/197.99
    234.99/214.99

    _______________________________

    Oh well, another red fantasiacal lie exploded all over the place, AGAIN.

    ________________________________-

    Sorry red, YOU LIED.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    You're another red rooster foofer.
    " Ati never wanted to compete with the higher end parts of GT200 they wanted to take on the midstream graphic processer which they did pretty well. Ati touches one of nvidia gt200 core(the gtx260) with it's radeon 4870 and everyone knows it, that's what heppened since it got first tested on anandtech. For a much lower price BTW. Yes 4850 is the best part bang for the bucks from ati but when you gotta choose between gtx260 or 4870, the price speaks by itself. "
    I HAD to write up the price chart - go check page 9 or 10 - then get back to me with an APOLOGY on your pricing LIE.
    DO IT redrooster.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Yes, there is a clear view, if you can do so HONESTLY.
    For instance, the 4830 is a tremendous value - that's the card I like from the red crew - and it hit the egg at $74, and I'm still kicking myself for not buying a half dozen.
    Don't be so quick to judge.
    If I'm incorrect, I will take correction, and apologize, and thank you. Know that.
    Reply

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