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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 30 June 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition Video Card
GT200 GPU: Why Now and What's New?
GT200 GPU: Bigger, Better, Faster
GTX 280 AMP! Specifications
GeForce GTX 280 Features
NVIDIA Hybrid SLI
NVIDIA HybridPower Technology
ZOTAC GTX 280 Closer Look
GTX 280 AMP! Detailed Look
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Lightsmark Frame Rates
Unreal Tournament 3
World in Conflict Benchmarks
ZOTAC GTX 280 AMP! Temperatures
GTX 280 Power Consumption
GT200 GPU Final Thoughts
ZOTAC GTX 280 Conclusion

GTX 280 Power Consumption

It's becoming difficult to dodge the "doom and gloom" talks these days. Planet Earth is needs our help, badly. With forests becoming barren of vegetation and snow capped poles quickly turning brown, the technology industry has a new attitude towards suddenly becoming "green". I'll spare you the powerful marketing hype that I get from various manufacturers every day, and get right to the point: your CPU has been doing a lot more to save the planet than your GPU has... until now. It's taken some time, but NVIDIA has finally worked out that problem.

GeForce GTX 200 GPU's (which include the GTX 280 and GTX 260 at the time of this writing) include a more dynamic and flexible power management architecture than past generation NVIDIA GPUs. Four different performance / power modes are employed on the new GT200 processor:

  1. Idle/2D power mode (approx 25 W)
  2. Blu-ray DVD playback mode (approx 35 W)
  3. Full 3D performance mode (varies-worst case TDP 236 W)
  4. HybridPower mode (effectively 0 W)

Using a HybridPower-capable nForce motherboard, such as those based on the nForce 780a chipset, a GeForce GT200 GPU can be fully powered off when not performing intensive graphics operations and graphics output can be handled by the motherboard GPU (mGPU). For 3D graphics-intensive applications, the NVIDIA driver can seamlessly switch between the power modes based on utilization of the GPU.

GeForce_GTX_280_Exposed_Top.jpg

Each of the new GeForce GTX 200 GPUs integrates utilization monitors ("digital watchdogs") that constantly check the amount of traffic occurring inside of the GPU. Based on the level of utilization reported by these monitors, the GPU driver can dynamically set the appropriate performance mode (i.e., a defined clock and voltage level) that minimizes the power draw of the graphics card-all fully transparent to the end user.
The GPU also has clock-gating circuitry, which effectively "shuts down" blocks of the GPU which are not being used at a particular time (where time is measured in milliseconds), further reducing power during periods of non-peak GPU utilization.

All this enables GeForce GTX 200 graphics cards to deliver idle power that is nearly 1/10th of its maximum power (approximately 25 W on GeForce GTX 280). This dynamic power range gives you incredible power efficiency across a full range of applications (gaming, video playback, surfing the web, etc). While current Intel central processing units are using a power-efficient 24nm die process size, the graphics processor is a bit slower to catch up to this refinement level and the GT200 is built by TSMC's 65 nm fabrication process. Below is a chart with the isolated video card Watts (not system total) consumed by each specified test product:

Video Card Power Consumption by Benchmark Reviews

VGA Product Description

(sorted by combined total power)

Idle Power

Loaded Power

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 SLI Set
82 W
655 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Reference Design
53 W
396 W
ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 Reference Design
100 W
320 W
AMD Radeon HD 6990 Reference Design
46 W
350 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 Reference Design
74 W
302 W
ASUS GeForce GTX 480 Reference Design
39 W
315 W
ATI Radeon HD 5970 Reference Design
48 W
299 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Reference Design
25 W
321 W
ATI Radeon HD 4850 CrossFireX Set
123 W
210 W
ATI Radeon HD 4890 Reference Design
65 W
268 W
AMD Radeon HD 7970 Reference Design
21 W
311 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 Reference Design
42 W
278 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 Reference Design
31 W
246 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 Reference Design
31 W
241 W
ATI Radeon HD 5870 Reference Design
25 W
240 W
ATI Radeon HD 6970 Reference Design
24 W
233 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 465 Reference Design
36 W
219 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Reference Design
14 W
243 W
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 11139-00-40R
73 W
180 W
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 Reference Design
85 W
186 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Reference Design
10 W
275 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 Reference Design
9 W
256 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 Reference Design
35 W
225 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 (216) Reference Design
42 W
203 W
ATI Radeon HD 4870 Reference Design
58 W
166 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Reference Design
17 W
199 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Reference Design
18 W
167 W
AMD Radeon HD 6870 Reference Design
20 W
162 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 Reference Design
14 W
167 W
ATI Radeon HD 5850 Reference Design
24 W
157 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Reference Design
8 W
164 W
AMD Radeon HD 6850 Reference Design
20 W
139 W
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT Reference Design
31 W
133 W
ATI Radeon HD 4770 RV740 GDDR5 Reference Design
37 W
120 W
ATI Radeon HD 5770 Reference Design
16 W
122 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 Reference Design
22 W
115 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Reference Design
12 W
112 W
ATI Radeon HD 4670 Reference Design
9 W
70 W
* Results are accurate to within +/- 5W.

In regard to power requirements, the GeForce GTX 280 has the same hunger that haunted the older 8800 GTX and requires one 8-pin and another 6-pin PCI-Express power connection for proper operation. Taken into broader perspective, the GTX 280 consumes nearly the same power as the older 8800 GTX while producing twice the performance in most gaming applications and adding parallel computing power. So the loaded power consumption has become more efficient, which is not very common since emphasis is usually placed on idle/standby mode efficiency and conservation.

NVIDIA has designed the GT200 graphics processor to be an efficient GeForce product at idle, too, and thereby reduces the power consumption full-time. The newly improved design inherently gives the GT200 an efficiency advantage at every level, and the power consumption falls to same low level as recorded for the Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic NE/960TSX0202. NVIDIA's most top-end GeForce product consumes just as much power in idle 2D mode as their lowest models. That's really quite impressive, to say the least.

Please continue to the review conclusion in the next section, where I share my final thoughts on the NVIDIA GT200 graphics processor and give my opinion of the new high-level AMP!'ed GTX 280 product offering.



 

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