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Nvidia GeForce GTX 260/280 Review

Specifications: Better!

As is often the case, Nvidia is making two cards available for its launch – a very-high-end version, the GeForce GTX 280, and a slightly more affordable but still high-end card, the GeForce GTX 260. Let’s look at the other characteristics of these cards compared to their competitors.

GPUHD 3870 X29800 GX28800 UltraGTX 260GTX 280
GPU frequency825 MHz600 MHz612 MHz576 MHz602 MHz
ALU frequency825 MHz1500 MHz1512 MHz1242 MHz1296 MHz
Memory frequency900 MHz1000 MHz1080 MHz999 MHz1107 MHz
Memory bus width2x256 bits2x256 bits384 bits448 bits512 bits
Memory typeGDDR3GDDR3GDDR3GDDR3GDDR3
Memory quantity2 x 512 MB2x512 MB768 MB896 MB1024 MB
Number of ALUs640256128192240
Number of texture units32128326480
Number of ROPs3232242832
Shading power1 TFlops(1152) GFlops(581) GFlops715 GFlops933 GFlops
Memory bandwidth115.2 GB/s128 GB/s103.7 GB/s111.9 GB/s141.7 GB/s
Number of transistors1334 million1010 million754 million1400 million1400 million
Process0.055µ0.065µ0.080µ0.065µ0.065µ
Die surface area2 x 196 mm²2 x 324 mm²484 mm²576 mm²576 mm²
Generation20082008200720082008
Shader Model supported4.14.04.04.04.0

With 1,400 million transistors, and especially at 576 mm², Nvidia has created another monster – the biggest GPU ever produced, breaking the record, impressive as it was, of the G80 (16% smaller)! Yet this value ought to have remained constant over the generations (it has even been diminishing in recent times for “general-public” CPUs). Clearly production of the GT200 is extremely expensive for Nvidia, even if the conservative engraving depth is what explains the existence of a chip like this today.

Another notable point is that by continuing to use GDDR3, Nvidia is now not one but two generations behind in this department, since GDDR5 will make its appearance with the soon-to-be-released Radeon HD 4870. But though that is worth mentioning, thanks to the 512-bit bus, the increase of memory bandwidth is still 64% compared to the 8800 GTX’s 86.4 GB/s. And we’re finally seeing the debut of a high-end card with more than 512 MB of usable memory (not counting the relatively old and not widely distributed 8800 Ultra)! With 1 GB (and 896 MB for the GTX 260 – a good thing), performance at 2560*1600 resolution should finally be able to hold up!

Finally, the frequencies used are fairly conservative, especially with the ALUs, which are slower than on the 8800 Ultra, among others.