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NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra (NV40) Review

NV40 has twice the geometry processing power, 4 to 8 times the FP32 pixel shading power, 4 times the occlusion culling performance, 4 times shadow processing power, ~2 times frame buffer bandwidth of the NV38. VR-Zone put the GeForce 6800 Ultra through a series of performance and overclocking tests.

Introduction :

NVIDIA has morphed themselves into a more diversified company
over the past two years by going into other areas of strong growth like the
chipsets, mobile and handheld. The strong financial results don’t seem to
show that NVIDIA is facing any problems with their NV3x products where previously
they have been suffered from constant delays due to design complexity and
manufacturing problems with 130nm low-k process technology over at TSMC. NVIDIA
came under fire with reference card design that takes up two slots with
extravagant cooling solutions, hidden drivers optimizations to improve
performance that leave many enthusiasts in a sour taste and below expectation
performance due to FP32 precision implementation in the shaders where the NV3x
architecture just isn’t ready to take on. ATi took this wonderful opportunity to
capture substantial market share from NVIDIA where they have never been able to
from their past products. ATi is in better position with their R3xx architecture
in place and has gained much trust from gamers and enthusiasts over the past one

NVIDIA has no wish to repeat history again as it has proved very
costly to the company. This time round, NVIDIA is confident of their new NV40
architecture that will pave the way to get back graphics leadership from now on.
NVIDIA promises NV40 to have two times the geometry processing power, 4 to 8 times
the FP32 pixel shading power, 4 times the occlusion culling performance, 4 times
shadow processing power, ~2 times frame buffer bandwidth of the precedent NV38.
NV40 is designed to have a parallel architecture not so much of raw speed as
evident from its low core speed therefore the architecture can be very scalable.
This way, the yield will be much better and cost will eventually drop. NV40 is
also technologically advanced since it supports Shader Model 3.0, a key feature
of DirectX 9.0c which will be used by game developers for the next generation
games. One good example is the Unreal Engine 3, the first game engine to take
full advantage of Shader Model 3.0 that sports lighting and shadowing
capabilities and advanced shader effects that will power many games in the near
future. Certainly, other game engines will no doubt to make use of Shader Model
3.0 in time to come.

NVIDIA has a series of GPUs under NV40 architecture :

  • GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme: 450 MHz core clock, 1100 MHz GDDR3, 16 pixel
    pipelines, > US$ 499
  • GeForce 6800 Ultra: 400 MHz core clock, 1100 MHz GDDR3, 16 pixel
    pipelines, US$ 499
  • GeForce 6800 GT: 350 MHz core clock, 1000 MHz GDDR3, 16 pixel pipelines,
    US$ 399
  • GeForce 6800: 350 MHz core clock, 700 MHz GDDR, 12 pixel pipelines, US$ 299


Specifications At A Glance :

CineFX 3.0 Shading Architecture

  • Support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0

  • Displacement mapping

  • Infinite length vertex and pixel programs

  • Pixel Shaders 3.0, Vertex Shader 3.0

  • Full pixel branching support

  • Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)

  • Up to 16 textures per rendering pass

  • Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating
    point format

  • Full 128-bit studio-quality, floating point precision through
    the entire rendering pipeline with native hardware support for 32bpp, 64bpp,
    and 128bpp rendering modes

High Precision Dynamic-Range (HPDR) Technology

  • Full FP16 support throughout entire pipeline

  • FP16 frame buffer blending

  • New rotated-grid antialiasing removes jagged edges

Intellisample 3.0 Technology

  • 16x anisotropic filtering

  • Support for lossless compression algorithms for color,
    texture, and z-data

  • Fast z-clear

  • High-resolution compression technology (HCT)

UltraShadow II Technology

  • For shadow intensive games like Doom III

Advanced Video and Display Functionality

  • On-chip video processor

  • MPEG video encode and decode

  • WMV9 decode acceleration

  • Dual DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters
    and external TV encoders

  • nView multi-display technology capability

  • Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0 Technology


Comparison Table: 

GeForce FX 5950U

GeForce 6800U

Radeon 9800XT

Radeon X800 Pro
Codename NV38 NV40 R360 R420
Micron Process 0.13 TSMC 0.13 IBM 0.15 TSMC 0.13 TSMC
Transistors 130M 222M ~110M ~160M
Core Clock 475Mhz 400Mhz 412Mhz 475Mhz
Memory Clock 950Mhz 1100Mhz 730Mhz 900Mhz
Pixel Pipelines 4×2/8×0 16×1/32×0 8×1 16×1
Peak Pixel Fill Rate 1.8Gpixels/s 6.4Gpixels/s 2Gpixels/s 5.7Gpixels/s
Textures Units Per Pixel
2 1 1 1
Peak Textures Fill Rate 3.6Gtexels/s 6.4Gtexels/s 2Gtexels/s 5.7Gtexels/s
Memory Interface 256-bit GDDR 256-bit GDDR3 256-bit GDDR 256-bit GDDR3
Peak Memory Bandwidth 30.4GB/s 35.2GB/s 23.4GB/s 30.4GB/s

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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