San Francisco (CA) - The battle for mainstream graphics supremacy will enter a new phase with month, with both Nvidia and AMD’s graphics unit ATI being expected to introduce their latest contenders within two weeks. And if power supply is any indication, then both products could be swimming against the green IT trend and turn out to very power hungry.
Nvidia’s and ATI’s next graphics cards may be vastly different overall, but they will share some features such as 512 MB of memory (GDDR3 on the GeForce, GDDR5 on the Radeon) as well as power and cooling requirements. We recently learned that the GeForce 9800GT and Radeon 4870, both of which will aim at the sub-$300 segment, will come with two 6-pin PEG (PCI Express Graphics) connectors, each supplying 75 watts of power.
With PCI Express slot providing 75 watts of juice and the motherboard another 75 watts, there is a theoretical supply of up to 225 watts. That is quite a jump in the sub-$300 segment and it makes you wonder what the reasons may be, but we are certain that overclockers won’t mind. One of key limitations for the extreme overclocking of previous generation parts was the fact that the cards (3850, 3870, 8800GT, 8800GTS512) had only one power connector.
And the reason why ATI was so popular with overclockers was the fact that you could tell the motherboard to supply 150 watts, and ATI’s 3870 would eat 150 watts from the motherboard (total: 75 watts + 150 watts = 225W). With two power connectors in place for the 4850 and 4870, overclockers do not need any hacks to get access to 225 watts. In fact, the 4870 will top out at 300 watts (150 watts from the motherboard, 75+75W from connectors). The 9800GT will be restricted to 225 watts (75 watts from the motherboard).
Overclocking numbers for the Radeon 4870 have been surfacing on the web already and we are interested to see how the 55nm G92b chip will compete against ATI’s 55nm RV770XT GPUs. Actually, RV770XT is now looking more and more like a competitor for the GTX 260 and 280 - with a much lower price tag. Keep in mind that you will be able to buy two 4870 boards for the price of a single GTX280.