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NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra (NV40) Preview
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Saturday, 17th April, 2004


NV40 Gets A Name

Ever since the codenames of next generation graphics processors from the two graphics chip giants had been leaked out, there had been nothing but speculation after speculation of feature set, performance and which of them would be the better performer. It's not as if the current high-end graphics cards can't handle the existing games, but its just the curiosity and the need (or even greed) to obtain better products than what is already available that drove all this speculative discussions for more than a year. Luckily, we don't have to put up with all that (at least for sometime) because both NVIDIA and ATI have their next generation products all ready to roll out. This time around NVIDIA got the chance to launch their new toy first.

This is the sixth generation of GeForce series and it has significant advances in features and hardware capability over the fifth generation. It is so well equipped that it greatly eclipses the advancements made back then when GeForce FX 5800 Ultra (NV30) was made available. NVIDIA had been working hard with many key industry partners and game developers all through the design of their GeForce 6xxx series to firm its features and capabilities. If you recall the debut of the original GeForce series, it touted the first Transformation and Lighting (T&L) engine on a graphics card as a big breakthrough. In those days, hardly any games took advantage of this feature until a very much later timeframe.

However, you can rest assure that with far better collaboration today between the developers, the operating system (OS) folks, namely Microsoft and the GPU designers themselves, the time-to-market for actual games that would benefit from the NVIDIA's 6th Generation GeForce series would likely be shorter than anticipated in the past.


Codenamed NV40 and designated as the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series when launched on April 14th 2004, it instantly attained the title as the most advanced GPU design available in the consumer industry and we will be outlining some of its key highlights within this preview. Unlike the previous GPU, NV38, which was only launched in the 'Ultra' variant, the ultra high-end NV40 will be available as both the GeForce 6800 and GeForce 6800 Ultra versions. Previewed here today is the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra and we have compiled a technical specifications table summarizing the GPU's key highlights. You'll soon realize that this is nothing short of a monster GPU if you take into account all its hardware features (and requirements).

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra GPU
    • 222 Million Transistors
    • Based on a 0.13-micron process technology
    • Flip-Chip BGA packaging (40mm x 40mm)
  • CineFX 3.0 Shading Engine
    • Vertex Shaders
      • Support for DX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
      • Displacement Mapping
      • Vertex Frequency Stream Divider (Geometry Instancing)
      • Infinite length vertex programs (supported in hardware)
    • Pixel Shaders
      • Support for DX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
      • Full pixel branching support
      • Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
      • Infinite length pixel programs (supported in hardware)
    • Texturing Engine Features
      • Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
      • Support for 16-bit and 32-bit floating point formats
      • Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
      • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
    • Full 128-bit FP Precision Graphics Pipeline
      • Native support for 32 / 64 / 128 bits per pixel rendering modes
  • UltraShadow II Technology (accelerates shadow computations)
  • Intellisample 3.0 Technology
    • 16x Anisotropic Filtering
    • Adaptive Texture Filtering
    • Rotated Grid Antialiasing
    • Fast antialiasing and compression performance
    • Loss-less Color, Texture and Z-Data Compression algorithms (in real time)
    • Fast Z-clear
    • High-resolution Compression Technology (HCT) increases performance at high resolutions.
  • Advanced Video and Display Functionality
    • Dedicated on-chip video processor
      • MPEG video encode and decode
      • WMV9 decode acceleration
      • Advanced adaptive de-interlacing
      • High quality video scaling and filtering
    • Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder support resolutions up to 1024x768 with built-in Macrovision copy protection
    • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
    • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
    • Dual DVO ports for interfacing external TMDS transmitters and external TV/HDTV encoder
    • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
    • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
  • NVIDIA High-Precision Dynamic-Range (HPDR) Technology
    • Full floating point support throughout entire pipeline
    • Floating point filtering
    • Floating point texturing
    • Floating point shading
    • Floating point frame buffer blending
    • Supports OpenEXR standard to accurately capture the range and precision of light transport data
  • Default clock speed 400/1100 MHz (core/DDR memory)
  • 256-bit memory interface (Graphics DDR3 compliant)
  • 35.2GB/sec Memory Bandwidth
  • Advanced Interface Support
    • Designed for PCI Express x 16
    • Supports PCI Express high-speed interconnect (HSI) technology for bidirectional interconnect protocol conversion
    • Full support of AGP 8X including fast writes and sideband addressing
  • Advanced thermal monitoring and thermal management
Graphics Memory
  • 256MB GDDR3 at 550MHz clock rate (effective speed of 1.1GHz)
Display Capabilities
  • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
Connectors
  • 1x mini-DIN connector (for Video-out)
  • 2x DVI-I connector (for Digital Flat Panel displays, compatible with analog displays with converter)
Operating Systems / API Support
  • Driver support for Microsoft Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP, Linux and Macintosh (including OS X)
  • NVIDIA Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • Fully compliant OpenGL 1.5 API
  • Complete DirectX support including 9.0C and lower
Other Information
  • AGP 2.0/3.0 slot required
  • 1 spare slot next to the AGP port is required.
  • 1 PCI-assigned IRQ required
  • Dual four-pin Molex power connectors required (not shared or split with Y-cable)
  • Power supply rated at 480W or higher (recommended by NVIDIA)

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