eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition

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Back in May '04, NVIDIA introduced the GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition to counter the launch of ATi's Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition, and gamers the world over took notice.  Just a few weeks earlier, the GeForce 6800 Ultra was unveiled, and at the time it was smoking through benchmarks like nobody's business.  Then, about a month later NVIDIA announces this new card and it's got a 16-Pipe NV40 core running a full 50MHz faster than the "stock" 6800 Ultra.  On top of that, it was said that some AIC partners may even ship cards with faster memory as well, offering even higher performance.  Today, we'll be taking a look at just such a card.

The eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition is basically a reference design GeForce 6800 Ultra with its core clocked at 450MHz and its on-board memory humming along at a speedy 1.2GHz (600MHz DDR).  This is the fastest NV40 based card to land in the HotHardware labs, as its memory is clocked a full 100MHz faster than even the reference GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition NVIDIA shipped to us for this article.  Since its initial release, NVIDIA has also improved GeForce 6 line-up performance, with updated Forceware drivers.  Needless to say we were eager to get the eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition installed to see just what she was made of. Here's what we found out.

     

Specifications & Features of The eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition
NVIDIA's Flagship GPU
CINEFX 3.0 SHADING ARCHITECTURE
  • Vertex Shaders
    Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
    Displacement mapping
    Vertex frequency stream divider
    Infinite length vertex programs*
  • Pixel Shaders
    Support for DirectX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
    Full pixel branching support
    Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
    Infinite length pixel programs*
  • Next-Generation Texture Engine
    Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
    Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating point format
    Support for non-power of two textures
    Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
    DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Full 128-bit studio-quality floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline with native hardware support for 32bpp, 64bpp, and 128bpp rendering modes

ULTRASHADOW II TECHNOLOGY

  • Designed to enhance the performance of shadow-intensive games, like id Software's Doom III

ADVANCED ENGINEERING

  • Over 220m transistors
  • Designed for PCI Express x16
  • Supports PCI Express high-speed interconnect (HSI) technology for bidirectional interconnect protocol conversion
  • Full support of AGP 8X including Fast Writes and sideband addressing
  • Support for the industry's fastest GDDR3 memory
  • 256-bit advanced memory interface
  • 0.13 micron process technology
  • Advanced thermal management and thermal monitoring
  • 40 mmx40 mm, BGA flip-chip package

 

Architecture Characteristics of the GeForce 6 Series

Pixel pipelines 16
Superscalar shader Yes
Pixel shader operations/pixel 8
Pixel shader operations/clock 128
Pixel shader precision 32 bits
Single texture pixels/clock 16
Dual texture pixels/clock 8
Adaptive anisotropic filtering Yes
Z-stencil pixels/clock 32
NVIDIA HIGH-PRECISION DYNAMIC-RANGE (HPDR) TECHNOLOGY
  • Full floating point support throughout entire pipeline
  • Floating point filtering improves the quality of images in motion
  • Floating point texturing drives new levels of clarity and image detail
  • Floating point frame buffer blending gives detail to special effects like motion blur and explosions
  • New rotated-grid anti-aliasing removes jagged edges for incredible edge quality
INTELLISAMPLE 3.0 TECHNOLOGY
  • Advanced 16x anisotropic filtering
  • Blistering-fast anti-aliasing and compression performance
  • Support for advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data at even higher resolutions and frame rates
  • Fast z-clear
  • High-resolution compression technology (HCT) increases performance at higher resolutions through advances in compression technology
ADVANCED VIDEO AND DISPLAY FUNCTIONALITY
  • Dedicated on-chip video processor
  • MPEG video encode and decode
  • WMV9 decode acceleration
  • Advanced adaptive de-interlacing
  • High-quality video scaling and filtering
  • Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder supporting resolutions up to 1024x768 without the need for panning with built-in Macrovision copy protection
  • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
  • Dual integrated 400 MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536 at 85Hz.
  • Dual DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters and external TV encoders
  • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) supports multiple video windows with full video quality and features in each window
  • VIP 1.1 interface support for video-in function
  • Full NVIDIA nView multi-display technology capability

NVIDIA DIGITAL VIBRANCE CONTROL (DVC) 3.0

  • DVC color controls
  • DVC image sharpening controls

OPERATING SYSTEMS

  • Windows XP, 2000, ME, 9x
  • Macintosh OS, including OS X
  • Linux

API SUPPORT

  • Complete DirectX support, including the latest version of Microsoft DirectX 9.0
  • Full OpenGL, including OpenGL 1.5

* The operating system or APIs can impose limits, but the hardware does not limit shader program length.


     

eVGA struck a very good balance with their GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition's bundle.  Instead of including a slew of outdated utilities and older games with the card, eVGA has instead bundled one brand new game and includes only drivers, their proprietary ADM (Automated Driver Management) application, and NVIDIA's NVDVD player on the obligatory installation CD.  The game that eVGA is bundling with this card, at least until August 31, is the wildly popular FarCry.  It's good to see a new game, that's actually capable of showcasing some of the 6800's new features, shipping with eVGA's 6800 Ultra EE.  Kudos to eVGA - good choice!  Also included in the package are dual DVI-to-DB15 adapters, dual Molex power cable splitters, and a single S-Video cable.  Lastly, there is a user's manual, a couple of case badges, and a certificate of quality signed by the Director of Technical Marketing, their Chief Engineer, and two Quality Managers.  The certificate details what testing was done prior to boxing up the card and states, "This product comes with a 24 hour next business day replacement should something happen to your card."  That's a very comforting statement to read, when you've just dropped a mint on a new high-end video card, don't you think?

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