Well over a year since the 8-series launch the successors are here to play.
nVidia is having rather a good time of things at the moment; its 8800 GTX launched well over a year ago is still only rivalled by the 8800 Ultra. Meanwhile, the 8800 GT and (new) GTS are dominating the upper mid-range and the forthcoming 8800 GS should take the lower-mid if all goes nVidia’s way. We don’t want to know about current generation technology though, oh no, we need details of the next big thing to satiate our enthusiast hunger and thankfully the gracious nVidia has provided with its latest roadmap (and a few partner leaks) detailing the forthcoming 9-series.
Alas for the hardcore enthusiast this is an update akin to the AMD 3000-series, in that all the cards are revisions of the current architecture, as opposed to a whole new design; although there aren’t exactly any problems with nVidia’s current chips so it isn’t a big issue. So, what about the cards then? Well, for those of you crazy enough to have bought an Ultra and enjoying the prestige of having “the worlds fastest graphics card” under your hood (so to speak) prepare to be disappointed as that card is set to be replaced by the 9800 GX2(pictured), a nomenclature you may remember from the initially promising but ultimately flawed and ill-fated 7950 GX2. The information we know thus far is that the card is two PCBs bolted together to give a total of 256 stream processors sharing 1GB RAM. Meanwhile, replacing the 8800 GTX we’ll see the 9800 GT about which we know nothing other than that it is scheduled to launch in March or April.
The 8800 GS I detailed yesterday is going to be a limited run of around 100,000 units as an interim solution until the 9-series cards début. Taking that card’s place below the 8800 GT and (way) above the 8600 GTS will be the 9600 GT. So far as we know it should have a 650MHz core clock, use a 256-bit memory interface with either 256MB or 512MB of 1.8GHz memory and sport a 1,625MHz shader clock speed. We don’t, however, know how many stream processors, texture units or ROPs are present; 80 sounds like a likely number though as it would hold with nVidia’s suggestion that performance is more than double that of the 8600, which has 32 stream processors, but under that of the 8800 GT, which has 96 – isn’t guesswork fun?
Pricing is supposed to be around $170 (£80-ish), which means that for those of you still using 1,280 x 1,024 monitors this may end up the card of choice for 2008.