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Feature Articles

Voodoo Beginnings - 10 Years of GPU Development

By Kenny Yeo - 15 Jan 2009

Timeline: 2005


  • With SLI slowly catching on, Gigabyte came up with an ingenious solution not seen since the days of ATI's Rage Fury MAXX - two GPUs on a single card. We had the Gigabyte GV-3D1 (Dual GeForce 6600GT) for testing and despite the fact that it was tied down to a single motherboard due to SLI driver constraints, it was nevertheless awarded our 'Most Innovative Product' award.

Not seen since the time of ATI's Rage Fury MAXX - this is Gigabyte's GV-3D1, which put two 6600 GT GPUs on a single PCB. Because of its ingenuity, it was awarded our Most Innovative Product award.

  • With 512MB cards slowly flooding the market, we decided to investigate whether or not the extra memory actually helps. We hypothesized that faster clocked cards would actually do more good than the extra memory and we did our tests with a Sapphire Hybrid RADEON X800 XL 512MB (PCIe). Just as we suspected, the faster clocked Radeon X850 XT card came up tops in most of our tests, proving our hypothesis right.

    Just a year after releasing the awesome GeForce 6 series of cards, NVIDIA was taking it to the next level with the new G70 core, which powered the GeForce 7 series of cards. We were at Computex in Taiwan to get a first look at it. You can look at our coverage here - NVIDIA G70 - A Snapshot Preview.

Seen at Computex 2005, this is a sneak peek at NVIDIA upcoming G70 core. Set to appear in the flagship 7800 GTX, this was the most complex GPU for its time.

  • Also at Computex that year, ATI finally unveiled their response to NVIDIA's SLI - CrossFire - albeit more than half a year later. In our ATI CrossFire Preview , we noted CrossFire offers users greater flexibility with graphics card configurations and initial test-runs showed that it offered a substantial gain in performance, which is encouraging.

Also at Computex 2005, ATI finally unveiled their own multi-GPU solution, CrossFire. First impressions were good and we were especially excited about its flexible card configurations.

  • With SLI becoming increasingly popular, card manufacturers started looking at innovative ways of offering them at low prices. Dual GPUs on a single card was fast becoming an attractive option. We tested the ASUS EN6800GT Dual (6800GT SLi) and found it to be a monster, in more ways than one. Not only was it fast, it was also huge, installation on many of the casings was a problem.

When it was launched, it was one of the biggest cards we've ever seen, dwarfing everything else in our office.

  • Another interesting GeForce 6600 GT card that released this year was the MSI NX6600GT-V2TD128E Diamond (GeForce 6600 GT, PCIe) . It came with unique software utility called CoreCell 3D, which allowed users to not only monitor the status of the card, but also allowed them to tweak and overclock it. Moreover, it was extremely comprehensive and easy to use.

    CoreCell 3D was such an impressive little utility that we decided to give it our 'Most Innovative Product' award. It even made it into our Top 100 products of 2005

Awarded our Most Innovative Product award, this card from MSI was one of the best 6600 GT money could buy.

Card manufacturers sought ways to make their products stand out, and implementing radical cooling solutions like this, was one of them.

  • Midway through the year, NVIDIA finally unleashed the fearsome NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX and we rushed to test it. Expectations for it were high and we were not disappointed. At higher resolutions, it completely smashed ATI's flagship GPU, the Radeon X850 XT. And in SLI mode, it churned out phenomenal frame-rates. To say that it was amazing was an understatement.

    On a side note, our article of the GeForce 7800 GTX was so comprehensive that it was picked up on by many news reporting sites.

 The 7800 GTX, based on the new G70 core, was launched to much fanfare, and it didn't disappoint. It obliterated the competition and set a new yardstick by which all cards would now be measured.

  • We later followed up on the 7800 GTX by reviewing the Exclusive: ASUS Extreme N7800 GTX TOP (GeForce 7800 GTX) . It was the best 7800 GTX by far, because it was overclocked to insane levels. A stock 7800 GTX is clocked at 430/1200MHz, but with its customized cooler from Artic Cooling, Asus was able to overclock this card to a dizzying 486/1350MHz. Needless to say, it brought about substantial gains in performance.

    This card eventually appeared in our Top 100 products list for 2005, and was our pick for best 7800 GTX card.

As if the 7800 GTX wasn't fast enough, ASUS saw fit to stick a large customized cooler on top of it, and then overclocked it to insane levels.

  • The highly-anticipated Quake 4 was finally released. In our Quake 4 Performance Review , we documented the major graphics changes to the game and told users how best they can go about upgrading their system so as to ensure the smoothest frame rates and the highest quality graphics.
  • SLI has already made it to desktops, but what about notebooks? In our World Exclusive MSI's MXM SLI Card article and MSI Geminium-Go (MXM SLI Card) review, we talked about dual GPUs on mobile notebooks and we even demonstrated the feasibility of using mobile-based GPUs on desktops.

    Unfortunately, despite the encouraging results we've seen, these new technologies weren't as popular as we would have liked.

Unique and one of its kind, the MSI Geminium-Go brings the best of laptop graphics to the desktop.

  • Later in the year, ATI finally launched their X1000 series of cards, which was drastically redesigned and also their first ever series of cards to fully support Shader Model 3.0.

    Their high-end cards, such as the X1800 XT, were particularly strong performers as evidenced by the ASUS EAX1800XT TOP (Radeon X1800 XT 512MB) . It was the fastest available card at the moment, but was, continuously plagued by availability issues and hence didn't pose as much as a threat to NVIDIA as they would have liked.

    ATI would later improve on this by introducing the X1900 XT. We tested the PowerColor Radeon X1900 XT 512MB and like its predecessor, it was a supremely fast card.

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