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The GeForce2 Ultra Card

NVIDIA Strikes Back - The GeForce2 Ultra 3D Monster
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This funky piece of expensive hardware represents NVIDIA's new GeForce2 Ultra reference design. Please note that it's obviously deranged from the Quadro2-design, although it's a tiny bit bigger, mainly due to the larger power supply of GeForce2 Ultra.

The card comes with the following specs:

  • Core Clock 250 MHz

  • (GeForce2 GTS has a core clock of 200 MHz)
  • Memory Clock 460 MHz

  • (GeForce2 GTS runs the memory only at 333 MHz)

This is good for a theoretical 1 GPixel/s pixel fill rate and 2 GPixel/s texel fill rate. The memory bandwidth is a whopping 6.9 GB/s, which marks an increase of 38% over the GeForce2 GTS. The other features are, as mentioned above, identical to GeForce2 GTS.

The shaggadelicly nice green heat sinks cover the most important feature of GeForce2 Ultra, the memory. We removed one of the heat sinks to find the following chip underneath:

A four nano seconds (4ns) rated DDR SDRAM chip from ESMT. This chip is therefore rated for no less than 250 MHz or '500 MHz DDR'. This is obviously a bit surprising, since it means that this memory is a bit 'too good' for only 460 MHz operation. Our overclocking checks proved that point as the cards memory went indeed up to 500 MHz clock without problems, offering some 8 GB/s of memory bandwidth then. The chip was also not too impressed with the 250 MHz it's meant to run at by default. We got it up to 285 MHz, which unfortunately still doesn't mean that much, because even a memory bandwidth of 8 GB/s is still not quite good enough to feed the big data hunger of a GeForce2 chip running at 250 MHz.

NVIDIA told us that it wasn't easy at all to get all the memory together for a reasonable launch of the GeForce2 Ultra. Therefore some cards might come with memory rated at 4.4 ns and the manufacturers will most likely vary as well. I guess that this is the reason why NVIDIA preferred to stay on the safe side and clocked the memory at 'only' 460 MHz.

The New Detonator 3 Drivers

So far about the hardware behind the new GeForce2 Ultra. There is something else that is particularly important for the excellent performance of this new 3D solution. NVIDIA's driver team under Dwight "I never sleep and my home is my office" Diercks is today the best 3D driver team that exists. Period!

After NVIDIA had to find out that the air is getting a bit thin with ATi up there in the high-res/true-color heights, the efforts were increased, Dwight and his team disregarded such a wasteful thing as sleep (that's my opinion too) completely and the Detonator 3 driver set was born.

Silvino is doing a dedicated article on this topic, so that I won't tell you too much now. What I can say however is that this new driver set improves the performance of all supported chips (from TNT right up to GeForce2 Ultra) in a tremendous fashion.

If there is one complaint then it is the missing Linux Detonator 3 driver. Dwight promised me this driver for the end of the month.

Test Setup


Graphics Cards and Drivers
Radeon DDR 64 MB 4.12.3054
GeForce2 Ultra
GeForce2 GTS 64 MB
GeForce2 GTS
GeForce2 MX
GeForce DDR 32 MB
GeForce SDR
RIVA TNT2 Ultra
RIVA TNT2
RIVA TNT
4.12.01.0616
Voodoo5 5500 4.12.01.0543
Platform Information
CPU Intel Pentium III 1 GHz
Motherboard Asus CUSL2 (bios 1002 BETA 02)
Memory Wichmann WorkX PC133 CAS2, setting 2-2-2-5/7
Network Netgear FA310TX
Environment Settings
OS Version Windows 98 SE 4.10.2222 A
DirectX Version 7.0
Quake 3 Arena Retail version
command line = +set cd_nocd 1 +set s_initsound 0
OpenGL FSAA set to 2x SuperSampling or FSAAQuality 1
Expendable Downloadable Demo Version
command line = -timedemo
D3D FSAA set to 4x SuperSampling
Evolva Rolling Demo v1.2 Build 944
Standard command line = -benchmark
Bump Mapped command line = -benchmark -dotbump
MDK2 Downloadable Demo Version
T&L = On
trilinear, high texture detail
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