NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS: Unified Powerhouses

Introduction, Specifications, and Related Info

A couple of weeks ago at an Editor's Day event at their headquarters in Santa Clara, California, NVIDIA proclaimed that they planned to "redefine reality" with their self-branded ultimate gaming platform. The products in the spotlight throughout the event were the new nForce 680i SLI chipset, the upcoming 680a SLI, and a new family of graphics cards built around the company's forthcoming DX10 capable G80 GPU.

The G80 at the heart of what became known as the GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS represented a complete shift in NVIDIA's GPU architecture. NVIDIA's Tony Tomasi even went so far as to say, "every transistor in the chip is new". Of course NVIDIA would leverage some technology from previous generations of products, but the DX10 compliant, Unified architecture of the G80 is a major departure from the G70 GPU and its derivatives that power cards in the GeForce 7 series of products.

After hearing what NVIDIA had to say about the G80 and new nForce chipsets over the course of the event, the idea that the company had designed and built the ultimate gaming platform seemed like a distinct possibility, even for staunch PC enthusiast critics like us. We of course wouldn't pass judgment until we had the products to test for ourselves, however. Fortunately, the nForce 680i SLI and GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS were ready for testing almost immediately, and today we can tell you all about them.

We've talked at great length about the new nForce 600 series of chipsets, and more specifically about the nForce 680i SLI in this article here.  And in this showcase and evaluation we'll be presenting you with information regarding NVIDIA's flagship GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS. Strap in folks.  It's going to be a wild ride.

NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Series
Features & Specifications
NVIDIA unified architecture:
Fully unified shader core dynamically allocates processing power to geometry, vertex, physics, or pixel shading operations, delivering up to 2x the gaming performance of prior generation GPUs.

GigaThread Technology:
Massively multi-threaded architecture supports thousands of independent, simultaneous threads, providing extreme processing efficiency in advanced, next generation shader programs.

Full Microsoft DirectX 10 Support:
World's first DirectX 10 GPU with full Shader Model 4.0 support delivers unparalleled levels of graphics realism and film-quality effects.

NVIDIA SLI Technology:
Delivers up to 2x the performance of a single graphics card configuration for unequaled gaming experiences by allowing two cards to run in parallel. The must-have feature for performance PCI Express graphics, SLI dramatically scales performance on today's hottest games.

NVIDIA Lumenex Engine:
Delivers stunning image quality and floating point accuracy at ultra-fast frame rates.
16x Anti-aliasing: Lightning fast, high-quality anti-aliasing at up to 16x sample rates obliterates jagged edges.

128-bit floating point High Dynamic-Range (HDR):
Twice the precision of prior generations for incredibly realistic lighting effects - now with support for anti-aliasing.

NVIDIA Quantum Effects Technology:
Advanced shader processors architected for physics computation enable a new level of physics effects to be simulated and rendered on the GPU - all while freeing the CPU to run the game engine and AI.

NVIDIA ForceWare Unified Driver Architecture (UDA):
Delivers a proven record of compatibility, reliability, and stability with the widest range of games and applications. ForceWare provides the best out-of-box experience and delivers continuous performance and feature updates over the life of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs.

OpenGL 2.0 Optimizations and Support:
Ensures top-notch compatibility and performance for OpenGL applications.

NVIDIA nView Multi-Display Technology:
Advanced technology provides the ultimate in viewing flexibility and control for multiple monitors.

PCI Express Support:
Designed to run perfectly with the PCI Express bus architecture, which doubles the bandwidth of AGP 8X to deliver over 4 GB/sec. in both upstream and downstream data transfers.

Dual 400MHz RAMDACs:
Blazing-fast RAMDACs support dual QXGA displays with ultra-high, ergonomic refresh rates - up to 2048x1536@85Hz. 

Dual Dual-link DVI Support:
Able to drive the industry's largest and highest resolution flat-panel displays up to 2560x1600.

Built for Microsoft Windows Vista:
NVIDIA's fourth-generation GPU architecture built for Windows Vista gives users the best possible experience with the Windows Aero 3D graphical user interface.

NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology:
The combination of high-definition video decode acceleration and post-processing that delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for movies and video.

Discrete, Programmable Video Processor:
NVIDIA PureVideo HD is a discrete programmable processing core in NVIDIA GPUs that provides superb picture quality and ultra-smooth movies with low CPU utilization and power.

Hardware Decode Acceleration:
Provides ultra-smooth playback of H.264, VC-1, WMV and MPEG-2 HD and SD movies.

HDCP Capable:
Designed to meet the output protection management (HDCP) and security specifications of the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD formats, allowing the playback of encrypted movie content on PCs when connected to HDCP-compliant displays.

Spatial-Temporal De-Interlacing:
Sharpens HD and standard definition interlaced content on progressive displays, delivering a crisp, clear picture that rivals high-end home-theater systems.

High-Quality Scaling:
Enlarges lower resolution movies and videos to HDTV resolutions, up to 1080i, while maintaining a clear, clean image. Also provides downscaling of videos, including high-definition, while preserving image detail.

Inverse Telecine (3:2 & 2:2 Pulldown Correction):
Recovers original film images from films-converted-to-video (DVDs, 1080i HD content), providing more accurate movie playback and superior picture quality.

Bad Edit Correction:
When videos are edited after they have been converted from 24 to 25 or 30 frames, the edits can disrupt the normal 3:2 or 2:2 pulldown cadences. PureVideo HD uses advanced processing techniques to detect poor edits, recover the original content, and display perfect picture detail frame after frame for smooth, natural looking video.

Video Color Correction:
NVIDIA's Color Correction Controls, such as Brightness, Contrast and Gamma Correction let you compensate for the different color characteristics of various RGB monitors and TVs ensuring movies are not too dark, overly bright, or washed out regardless of the video format or display type.

Integrated SD and HD TV Output:
Provides world-class TV-out functionality via Composite, S-Video, Component, or DVI connections. Supports resolutions up to 1080p depending on connection type and TV capability.

Noise Reduction:
Improves movie image quality by removing unwanted artifacts.

Edge Enhancement:
Sharpens movie images by providing higher contrast around lines and objects.

NVIDIA G80 Wafer:
She's a Big One

The GeForce 8800 GTX GPU

The GeForce 8800 GTS GPU

The GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS are based on a totally new unified GPU architecture, so they don't have too much in common with the older GeForce 7 series of products. It would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with NVIDIA's previous product offerings, and their platform as whole, however. For a comprehensive look at the main features of the GeForce 7 series, and for more details regarding NVIDIA's multi-GPU SLI platform, we recommend taking a look at a few of our recent articles...

We know that's a lot of reading, but the information and performance data in the articles listed above will give you much of the background and architectural details necessary to better understand the new products being announced today. If you're unclear about anything on the proceeding pages, look back to these articles for more related details.

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