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AMD's RV670 processor runs on a single-slot cooler design, though working samples unveiled last week used a two-slot solution instead.  (Source:
Next-generation GPUs are the fastest things on the planet -- if they were released a year ago

Traditionally the Fall graphics refresh has been the battle of the titans -- ATI and NVIDIA both would debut behemoth video cards in an attempt to snag the headlines from one another.

Much of that changed when AMD acquired ATI last year.  Not only did ATI miss the Radeon HD 2900 launch window by almost six months, but NVIDIA's high-end GeForce 8800 became the undisputed ultra-high-end GPU as well.

This Fall, we will not get an ultra-high-end replacement from AMD or NVIDIA. Instead, November will be a clash of the sub-titans.  NVIDIA's mid-range G92 will go head-to-head with ATI's RV670.

ATI's RV670 has been called many things in the past. It was originally a 65 nanometer die-shrink of the R600 class GPU; then a 55 nanometer shrink. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Asia's largest core-logic foundry, confirmed AMD would go with a 55nm R600 shrink in a memo forwarded to DailyTech earlier this year.

When TSMC debuted its 55nm process earlier this Spring, the company claimed "significant die cost savings from 65 nm, while offering the same speed and 10 to 20 percent lower power consumption."  Since R600 was manufactured originally on a 80nm node, thermal improvements should be fairly dramatic on RV670.

Last week at the World Cyber Games, Sapphire demonstrated a working RV670 using a dual-slot cooler.  Sapphire and ATI engineers alluded to DailyTech that this dual-slot configuration will likely be replaced with a single-slot solution by time of launch.

NVIDIA's G92 has also carried many names.  Originally slated as the 65nm "fill-in" GPU between GeForce 8600 and GeForce 8800, the company began changing documentation earlier this month as ATI's offerings began to firm up. 

NVIDIA confirmed the specifications of G92 with board partners earlier this week.  The GeForce 8800 GT will feature a 600 MHz core clock, a 900 MHz memory clock and a 256 bit memory interface.

Newest guidance from NVIDIA, released Monday, claims the 8800 GT will feature 112 stream processors and a shader clock locked at 1500 MHz. 

The one thing that didn't change on G92 is the process node.  NVIDIA's foundry partner, TSMC, forwarded a second memo to DailyTech confirming G92 is in mass production at the company's Fab 12 with samples available now on 65nm process node.  NVIDIA's GeForce 8500 and GeForce 8600 are manufactured on TSMC's 80nm node; GeForce 8800 GT will be the company's first 65nm graphics processor.

NVIDIA guidance suggests G92 will be here next month, followed by AMD's marketing blitz for RV670, RD790 and Phenom.  All three AMD offerings are expected to launch on the same day, which AMD distributors have penciled in for late November. Intel is expected to launch its 45nm Penryn processors on November 12, and any NVIDIA launch will likely coincide with that announcement.

Late last week, Maximum PC reported that NVIDIA senior vice president Dan Vivoli commented that NVIDIA would be releasing new hardware to go along with the upcoming title Crysis.  The confirmed launch date by Electronic Arts for Crysis is November 15, 2007

However, G92 fans might get a quick preview of the new GPU on October 29, 2007, when the company officially lifts the embargo on 8800 GT.

Neither AMD nor NVIDIA have released "firm" pricing for the products, though we can reasonably infer several key points regarding the price.  Since RV670 is effectively a smaller R600, performance will be very similar to existing R600-based cards on the market today.  However, since the card only utilizes a single-slot cooler and a considerably smaller die, the cost of these cards should be lower than existing R600s.

G92, which was originally called GeForce 8700 until just last week, has a soft suggested retail price of $250, according to NVIDIA board partners.  Since the GeForce 8800 GT will be launching first, it's fairly likely that AMD will adjust the suggested price of RV670 depending on the outcome of initial GeForce 8800 GT feedback.

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RE: Sub-titans...
By Dactyl on 10/9/2007 10:58:19 PM , Rating: 3
If by "milking" you mean "making profits while they develop the next generation of cards," then NVidia has been milking the situation for the past 10+ years.

Sometimes they have a good year (8800), sometimes they have a bad year (FX5900). NVidia isn't "milking" anything, because it's not resting on its 8800 line. NVidia did not fire its design team, pocket their salaries, and decide to sell 8800s for the next five years.

RE: Sub-titans...
By mushi799 on 10/10/2007 5:23:41 AM , Rating: 3
it's milking by today's standard. The current video war or lack thereof is dismal. Usually by now we get hints/previews of the next generation, but none so far.

RE: Sub-titans...
By retrospooty on 10/10/2007 9:48:11 AM , Rating: 5
"If by "milking" you mean "making profits while they develop the next generation of cards,""

No, Milking means they are not pushing the next gen out as fast as they could have and would have if AMD had a viable competitor product. thus they are "milking" profit out of the current chip. See Intel prior to the Athlon for reference.

RE: Sub-titans...
By daniyarm on 10/10/2007 11:30:25 AM , Rating: 1
So you would rather see Nvidia release a new GPU and then try to get the drivers right for the next year or so? I'd rather have them offer the whole solution at once. I think they learned their lesson with 8800. You can't rush a product to market when software support is in beta stages.

RE: Sub-titans...
By retrospooty on 10/10/2007 10:30:34 PM , Rating: 3
They need to do both, like they used too its not either or... The driver team is not related to the hardware team. the drivers suck now because they let alot of the talent go, either through layoff, or attrition, they did not replace talent that left the department.

RE: Sub-titans...
By 1078feba on 10/10/2007 12:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully they're making profits. $425,000,000 in G80 R&D is quite a bit to recoup.

Although I can see the counterpoint: a lack of direct competition at the highest level most assuredly would lead a company to at least sit back and take a deep breath before rolling up it's sleeves and digging in again.

The flip side of this is that with the 8800 series now so prevalent, with so many sold, it gives NVidia serious impetus to keep working on the drivers to get the absolute max performance out of would think.

Mike Magee, the old geezer who runs the Inquirer, also has a weekly column in CPU magazine, used his space in November's issue (that's right, November, subscribers get it early) to lay it on pretty thick for Intel's upcoming Larrabee.

Times, they are a-changin'.

RE: Sub-titans...
By thartist on 10/10/2007 4:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
You don't have to take it to such an extreme. nVIDIA is not holding still in development, but definitely slowed down on some fronts.

Do the thinking yourself: do you think we would be under such frozen videocard line-ups if the AMDATI catastrophe hadn't occured?

RE: Sub-titans...
By Ryanman on 10/14/2007 2:57:34 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, they are milking. And they have every damn right to do so.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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