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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  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    That's nice, the 4870 512 top core DDR5 ati best they have for core and memeory speed can beat the 2 year old renamed a thousand times Nvidia g92b. Gosh what a GREAT CARD(err... MEMORY ONLY) ati has there... what "awesome technology".... what "efficient core!!! ( WRONG! IT'S ALL THE DDDR5 MEMORY ! THAT'S WHY THE 4850 IS THE SAME CORE WITH DDR3 AND IS UNDER THE GTS250 (g92b / reworked stale ol tired core that ATI has just barely matched ! )
    Don't feed me any crap anymore - ANYONE about "the great ati core ! " --
    It is the same as the g92b (4850) unless you slap DDR5 on it.
    I can hardly wait - or rather I certainly HOPE nvidia slaps DDR5 on that "rebranded piece of crap g80/g92/g92b " !
    My golly, it would be GREAT to see the ten thousand jaws of the red rooster propaganda boys DROP TO THE FLOOR when it matches and spanks the 4870 ...
    PLEASE NVIDIA ! PLEASE DO IT ! DO IT NOW !
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    why isn't the HD48701Gb in this review? I just noticed that. Reply
  • Totally - Thursday, March 05, 2009 - link

    Why isn't the GTX 285 in this review? I just noticed that. Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    my guess would be cause it's an overpriced piece of crap that is matched in many cases by the HD4870 1GB. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    4870 is ~$175 right now, which is much more than the $130 for the GTS 250. It would hold an advantage over the GTS 250 1GB if the end user is willing to spend the extra cash. Reply
  • Jansen - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Ahem...


    http://www.dailytech.com/Radeon+4870+Gets+50+Price...">http://www.dailytech.com/Radeon+4870+Ge...4850+Wil...
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Did you read the follow on link that was out quite a while ago where the ati board partners told ati to "go shove it!" - because ati wanted the board partners to "take a lot of the loss" and only offered a partial "reimbursement" for the lower price scheme they cooked up ?
    BOY I HOPE YOU DO.....
    So, ati wanted it's board partners to TAKE A LOSS - while the little red fans slopped up the savings and praised ati "for almost destrpying nvidia, again!" - yes.... very, very underhanded and evil.
    Well, the board partners told them to go blow.
    And the price stayed the same, in fact it went up at our fave egg with the usually the very lowest prices around widely known.
    So, so much for that for now.
    The day will come eventually... unless inflation from the monetary crisis whips us all.
    Reply
  • Roland00 - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    several news sites that aren't Anandtech are saying there is a 4870 price drop coming this week to $149.99 for the 512mb version.

    It isn't true yet, but if it is ATI is much faster for dollar spent.
    Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    There are several models at Newegg now that are falling below $165, and one Powercolor that is $149.99 after mail in rebate. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    Competition is making for a great market right now for gamers :)
    Reply
  • Roland00 - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Currently Newegg has the Asus 4870 512mb model for
    184.99-50 dollar promo code=134.99 with a 30 dollar rebate on top of that (104.99 after rebate).

    The problem is as very soon as they posted this deal they sold out. Deal is good till the 8th but are they going to get anymore in by then?
    Reply

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