NVIDIA GeForce 6800

Introduction, Specifications & Pictures

In the weeks leading up to the release of the NV40, the base architecture for the new GeForce 6 series of cards, NVIDIA spoke at length about their new architecture's "scalability".  At the high end, the flagship GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition is a 16-Pipeline machine clocked at 450MHz, that can pump out an impressive 7.2GPixels/s.  There are four banks of four pixel pipelines that are all enabled and running at a high clock speed on the 6800 Ultra EE.  Then comes the GeForce 6800 Ultra and 6800 GT, also with 16-Pipelines each but clocked at a more manageable 400MHz and 350MHz, respectively.  Having a single GPU as the base for a whole line of products like these, helps NVIDIA maximize the number of usable dies they can get from a single wafer at the fabrication facility and eliminates the need to design multiple GPUs for the same generation of products concurrently.  And because individual banks of pixel pipelines can be disabled, NVIDIA can scale the NV40 down even further and fill the market with a top-to-bottom line of products that all have the same feature-set and vary only in their performance levels.  In time, we'll probably even see an NV40 derivative replacing the GeForce FX 5200 at the low-end, or powering a notebook.

Today on HotHardware, we'll be taking a look at the latest edition to the GeForce 6 series to arrive in the lab, the GeForce 6800.  The GeForce 6800 is a 12-Pipeline version of the NV40.  It has all of the same features as the 6800 Ultra, minus 4 pixel pipelines, and its core and memory are clocked considerably lower at 325MHz / 350MHz (700MHz DDR).  But with fewer pixel pipelines and lower clock speeds also comes a lower price.  The 6800's MSRP is a palatable $299,  which currently makes it less expensive than the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra...

Specifications & Features of the GeForce 6800
Mainstream NV4x
  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • DVC color controls
  • DVC image sharpening controls


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


  • 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.




Boards powered by the 12-Pipeline GeForce 6800 looks much like the models equipped with the 16-Pipeline GeForce 6800 GT.  Some manufacturers, like Leadtek, MSI and Asus, will surely come up with their own custom cooling solutions, but the stock NVIDIA reference coolers on the 6800 and 6800 GT are identical.  They are both single-slot designs, made of aluminum with heat-pipes and heatsinks that extended over the GPU and on-board RAM.  The cooler is nearly silent when the system is idle, but when a 3D application is launched, the fans spins up, which generates a bit more noise.  It's by no means loud though, and will probably be inaudible over any stock CPU cooler.  The 6800's PCB is also similar to the GT's, with the exception of the power array at the end of the card.  They both require a single Molex power connector, but the GT is outfitted with an additional strip of MOSFETs, that have a thin heatsink mounted to them.  The 6800 also has a few more large capacitors in the power array.

This particular board is equipped with 128MB of DDR1 memory clocked at 350MHz (700MHz DDR), but 256MB models will be avaialble as well.

Tags:  Nvidia, GeForce, force, 680, id

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