What do you do when your fiercest rival brings two guns to a gun fight? You do the logical thing: bring two even bigger guns. And that, our dear readers, is exactly what NVIDIA has done. You see, ATI's Radeon HD 4870 X2 has done what no other ATI card has managed in quite some time and that is claim the mantle of "fastest single graphics card".
However, it was always going to be a matter of time before NVIDIA retaliated and it is here, nearly. NVIDIA's riposte takes the predictable form of a dual-GPU card aptly named GeForce GTX 295. Unfortunately, it's not available in retail yet. For that, you'll have to wait till January 8th 2009, at next year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Fortunately though, we were privileged to have a working prototype of NVIDIA's latest flagship card in our hands now. We kid you not and the truth is, the hardware is pretty much ready for release. If you remember the GeForce 9800 GX2 and 7950 GX2, then the premise behind the new GeForce GTX 295 should be familiar with you: take two already fast high-end cards, and sandwich them together (including their PCBs) to form an even faster card through the use of NVIDIA's SLI technology. In this respect, NVIDIA is a little different from ATI, who instead, prefers to put two GPUs on a single PCB.
The new GeForce GTX 295 is little bit of an oddball however, as the specifications of each of its GPUs lie somewhere between the GTX 280 and GTX 260 (Core 216 version, but we'll henceforth be referring to this as the "GTX 260+"). Specifically, the GPUs found on the GeForce GTX 295 has 240 cores (the same as a GTX 280); but it only has a 448-bit wide memory bus and is clocked at 576MHz for the cores, 1998MHz DDR for the memory and 1242MHz for the shaders (the same as the GTX 260+).
Because of the 448-bit wide memory bus, it has a somewhat uncommon (and large) amount of memory; 1792MB to be exact, 896MB for each of the GPUs. And yes, the GeForce GTX 295 is manufactured using NVIDIA's newer 55nm process. It seems then that the new GeForce GTX 295 looks very much a hybrid - a cross between the GTX 280 and 260+. One thing for sure: we expect this card to be epic fast. In terms of power consumption, this dual-card sandwich has a TDP rated at 289W; still significant and somewhat similar to the Radeon HD 4870 X2, but the card will have much better performance as you'll soon find out.
|Model||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 1792MB GDDR3||Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB GDDR5||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 1GB GDDR3||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB GDDR3||ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5|
|Core Code||GT200 x 2||R700 (RV770 x 2)||GT200||GT200||RV770|
|Transistor Count||2800 million||1912 million||1400 million||1400 million||956 million|
|Stream Processors||480 Stream Processors||320 Processors (1600 Stream processing units)||240 Stream Processors||216 Stream Processors||160 Processors (800 Stream processing units)|
|Stream Processor Clock||1242MHz||750MHz||1296Mhz||1242MHz||750MHz|
|Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units||160||80||80||72||40|
|Raster Operator units (ROP)||56||32||32||28||16|
|Memory Clock||1998MHz GDDR3||3600MHz GDDR5||2214MHz GDDR3||1998MHz GDDR3||3600MHz GDDR5|
|DDR Memory Bus Width||448-bit||256-bit||512-bit||448-bit||256-bit|
|PCI Express Interface||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16||PCIe ver 2.0 x16|
|Molex Power Connectors||6-pin, 8-pin||6-pin, 8-pin||6-pin, 8-pin||2 x 6-pin||2 x 6-pin|
|Multi GPU Technology||Yes (SLI)||Yes (CrossFireX)||Yes (SLI)||Yes (SLI)||Yes (CrossFireX)|
|DVI Output Support||2 x Dual-Link, 1 x HDMI||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link||2 x Dual-Link|
|HDCP Output Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|