Who's King of the hill now?
It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since NVIDIA launched the GeForce 6800 Ultra . Last spring, a new graphics leader emerged from the pack. Surprisingly, it was not long until ATI knocked the crown from NVIDIA's head with the launch of the X800 series graphics cards. Although R420 was not as groundbreaking as the 6800 Ultra launch, the performance numbers spoke for themselves and the crown did not belong to either company.
After a few paper launches, people were tired of the PR and marketing departments spouting about how great they were and how they were about to crush each other. It wasn't until the move to the PCI Express versions that the performance race began to get interesting again. With the launch of SLI, NVIDIA had exactly what they were looking for... a stunning blow to their competition. If two heads are better than one, then the same must go for two graphics cards, right? After a long summer of anticipation, November proved to be the bright light in the midst of the looming winter: dueling cards and memories of Voodoo 2 here we come!
With dual solutions available, NVIDIA sold a ton of chipsets, especially among enthusiasts who were looking to upgrade last year's model for something brand new. This allowed DIYers (Do It Yourselfers) the ability to upgrade their motherboards and buy video cards, in the hopes of acquiring a second card when they had the resources once again. For those with large disposable incomes, this meant they could go visit their favorite system integrator, to order the PC of their dreams.
NVIDIA had the lead - well, in the dual graphics department that is. There is one segment they are still looking to claim of course: the single card market. With ATI's next launch of the X850 with Pro, XT, and XT Platinum Edition variants, the single card crown is still held the X850XT PE. NVIDIA took huge strides once again to create a solution which would take the lead away from ATI in the single card arena. In SLI, the card had to be powerful enough to demote their own 6800 Ultra. The 7800 GTX, formerly known as G70, was designed to do just that - as you will see, both crowns now rest firmly on NVIDIA's head.