Nvidia releases GeForce 6 series, claims performance crown

San Jose (CA) - Nvidia today announced its next generation graphic chip. The GeForce 6800 and 6800 Ultra take desktop graphics to a whole new level, as a review by Tom's Hardware Guide reveals.

As key features the Ultra model boasts 16 pixel pipes (standard 6800: 12), tow Molex connectors (standard 6800: 1), two slots (standard 6800: 1), Microsoft's DirectX9 shader model 3.0 feature set as well as a programmable on-chip video processing engine which delivesr HD video playback an an integrated TV-encoder for direct-to-TV playback.

"This is the biggest generation-to-generation performance leap that we have ever seen with a new GPU," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. "In addition to the raw performance increase, we had two fundamental strategies with the 6800 models. First was to take programmability to the next level with the industry's only GPU with Shader Model 3.0. Second was to extend the reach of GPUs to the consumer electronics market with a powerful and fully programmable video processor capable of multiple video formats and 'prosumer' level image processing."

In pure performance figures, Nvidia's new 222-million-transistor GPU is the new standard which ATI will have to measure up: According to a review at Tom's Hardware Guide, the GeForce 6800 jumps to about 12.000 points in 3DMark 2003 and a score of more than 60.000 in AquaMark 3. It climbs to over 60fps in Halo at 1600x1200 and more than 50fps in FarCry with High FSAA and 4tap anisotropic filtering at 1024x768. In Nvidia's claims, the 6800 chips deliver twice the performance of comparable preceding models.

The first GPUs based on the NVIDIA GeForce 6 Series, the GeForce 6800 Ultra and GeForce 6800 models, are manufactured using IBM's 0.13-micron process technology and are currently shipping to add-in-card partners, OEMs, system builders, and game developers. Retail graphics boards based on the GeForce 6800 models are expected for release in the next 45 days, according to Nvidia.

One of the first companies to announce 6800-based cards was Gigabyte with the launch of its GV-N68U256VH and GV-N68128D boards. So far, priciong has not been released yet, but expect about $300 for standard 6800 cards and $500 for Ultra models.

Read the GeForce 6800 review.