thinking about...NVIDIA's NV35
In some respects, the launch
of NVIDIA's GeForce FX (NV30) turned out to be a disappointment.
The cards were extremely
noisy and the performance was less spectacular. When you
add in the lack of availabilty of the cards, the uncertain
status of the 5800 Ultra and the imminent release of new
cards from ATI, the launch of the NV30 almost was a non-event.
How is NVIDIA going to respond?
NVIDIA's answer will be the
NV35. While details have been closely guarded, NVIDIA
has pubicly stated to expect great things from the NV35...but
what will change?
Most of the reviews of the
GeForce FX have identified two main areas of
While the GeForce FX employs
1000MHz DDR2 memory, it is
bottlenecked by a 128-bit memory bus. Even though Matrox,
ATI and 3dlabs had already
moved to a 256-bit bus, NVIDIA opted for a narrower but
design. The result? The overall memory bandwidth of the
GeForce FX even trails that of the
older RADEON 9700 Pro (19.8GB/s for the 9700 Pro vs. 16GB/s
for the 5800 Ultra). With the new RADEON 9800 Pro, ATI
has managed to up the ante to 21.8GB/s of memory bandwidth.
Rumours circulating on the Web say that the NV35 will
memory bus and that should finally give the powerful GeForce
the breathing room it requires.
The GeForce FX was built
upon NVIDIA's new, state-of-the-art 0.13-micron
process, yet the sheer number of transistors makes it a heavy
heat producer. The cooling solution employed by the NV30
been routinely bashed.
Not only did it block a PCI slot, but it was extremely noisy.
promised a lower noise cooling
solution for the NV35. However, since rumor has it that
the NV35 will feature an additional 5 million transistors,
that may be difficult to do. Also, considering how ATI
has been able to do more with less,
design to use fewer transistors...but have them work
Finally, there is the issue
of timing - when will NVIDIA officially announce the NV35?
This has to be a very sticky
issue for NVIDIA. If they announce the NV35 now, they
will doom GeForce FX 5800/5800 Ultra sales (and hurt 5600
as well). However, if they don't announce something
soon, they risk losing customers to rival ATI.
It's much too early to say
that NVIDIA is in trouble. However, if NVIDIA fumbles the
NV35 launch like they did with the NV30,
they could face an uphill challenge to regain the hearts
and minds of the NVIDIA faithful. As NVIDIA's CEO Jen-Hsun
Huang said, "We can't make the same mistake twice. When
you're in a tough spot, you focus on getting the job done."