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Q3 2004 High-End GPU/VPU Shootout (AGP)
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Saturday, 23rd October, 2004

The NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Series (AGP)

During our preview of the GeForce 6800 Ultra, we've discussed much about the NV40's hardware and feature support, but what we weren't aware then the specifications of all three variants of the GeForce 6800 (AGP) series. We now have all of the models in retail, but for those of you who need a quick heads up on the differences, the table below summarizes the crucial aspects that differentiate each of them:-

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Series (AGP)
GPU Model NVIDIA GeForce
6800 Ultra
6800 GT
Core Code NV40 NV40 NV40
Transistor Count 222 million 222 million 222 million
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.13 0.13 0.13
Core Clock 400MHz 350MHz 325MHz
Vertex Shaders 6 6 5
Rendering (Pixel) Pipelines 16 16 12
Texture Units per Pipeline 1 1 1
Memory Clock 550MHz
(1100MHz DDR3)
(1000MHz DDR3)
(700MHz DDR1)
DDR Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 35.2GB/s 32.0GB/s 22.4GB/s
RAMDAC Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz
TV Output Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768
TMDS transmitter Ext. On-board IC Ext. On-board IC Ext. On-board IC
AGP speed 8x 8x 8x
Molex Power Connectors 2 1 1

From the table, it seems like the GeForce 6800 GT isn't all that far behind NVIDIA's highest performing GeForce 6800 Ultra part as far as the technical specifications go. Keep your eyes peeled on the GeForce 6800 GT in our results section later as it looks to be one interesting candidate. The baseline GeForce 6800 part took a cut in several areas ranging from the number of pixel and vertex shader pipelines to slower and more economical DDR1 memory of half the frame buffer size of its bigger brothers. Despite these cost cutting measures, you'll see later that it is still quite a capable performer and in fact one of the best buys for the US$299 price category.

The standard GeForce 6800 GPU still maintained the same transistor count as the GT and Ultra counterparts even though it does not have the same processing prowess because all these three variants are derived from the very same NV40 GPU manufactured. These are then thoroughly validated and 'speed-binned' just like CPUs to derive the different models. GPUs that fail to live up to the expectation of 'Ultra' standards but work at lower clock speeds are labeled as the GT versions. While even lower yield parts (which might have certain defects) have some parts of the GPU disabled and thus these are qualified as the standard GeForce 6800 parts. This is why all thee variants are based on the same core, die size, and transistor count but have dissimilar specs. Obviously, this maximizes the use of these expensive silicon chips and ATI too practices this. NVIDIA does have an even lower performing GeForce 6800 part with the 'LE' suffix, but this is strictly restricted to the OEM market. For the curious, it has only eight rendering pipelines, four vertex shader units and uses DDR1 memory (but it is still on a 256-bit memory bus).

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