|ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2008|
Page 17 of 19
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:
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.
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.
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:
* 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.