Santa Clara (CA) – Nvidia isn’t sitting still as AMD is preparing to reclaim the performance crown for graphics cards later this month. The company plans to crash AMD’s R600 party with a new high-end version of its 8800 series graphics processor.The new GeForce 8800 Ultra is positioned above the already fast and expensive 8800 GTX and is scheduled to become available worldwide on May 15th or around the time AMD is expected to unleash its 8800 fighter R600. Nvidia promises that the new Ultra version will run about 10 to 15% faster than its 8800 GTX.
The new GPU essentially is an 8800 GTX on steroids. The number of stream processors (128) and memory (768 MB) stay the same; however, increased frequencies across the board provide 8800 Ultra higher bandwidths than what is available in the regular GTX. Memory bandwidth climbs from 86.4 to 103.7 GB/s and the texture fill rate increases from 36.8 to 39.2 billion pixels per second.
The core clock of the Ultra reaches 612 MHz (GTX: 575), the shader clock is rated at 1500 MHz (1350 MHz), while the memory clock is now 1080 MHz (900 MHz). A sign of Nvidia’s adjusted product strategy following AMD’s acquisition of ATI is the firm’s decision to pitch an Intel platform for its new high-end gaming product. The company said that nForce 680i-based motherboards “provide the fastest and most feature-rich platform for the GeForce 8800 Ultra.”
Several add-in card manufacturers already announced GeForce 8800 Ultra cards, with Sparkle and XFX leading the charge early Wednesday morning. Nvidia appears to be confident that the Ultra version will keep the performance crown and prices the 8800 Ultra significantly higher than the GTX version: The company expects prices for Ultra cards to begin at about $830 – the highest price tag for any Nvidia card since the GeForce 6800 Ultra (512 MB) which retailed in early 2005 for $1000.
Is there value in an $830 graphics card, even if it is 15% faster than an already fast (and expensive) version of the same card? Let us know what you think and write a comment in the form below.