|ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2008|
Page 18 of 19
GT200 GPU Final Thoughts
Paying to be an early adopter of technology or buying from the top-shelf has never really been my personal taste, even for someone as immersed in technology as I am. There are always new technologies that people talk up as they are developed, such as Blu-ray Disc for example. Yet, because there isn't enough value behind the added features or functionality to warrant paying for the premium price tag, most people simply wait extended periods of time before making their purchase. There is occasionally the rare exception however, when you can find a revolutionary new product that really makes the price worth the purchase. For me, the GT200 graphics processor conducting a symphony of 240 processor cores inside the GeForce GTX 280 video card makes me believe a uniquely rare exception has may have occured... if the price is right.
Now I'm not going to tell you that these GT200-based video cards are a must-have item for everyone. After all, the GTX 280 and GTX 260 are now NVIDIA's top-shelf premium GeForce products and not everyone can pay the high price of admission. However, there will undoubtedly be products launched with lower model numbers that make the argument much more plausible for the average person. Either way, the GT200 is as revolutionary to graphics and computing as the electric motor has been to automobiles. I would even go so far as to say that NVIDIA's GT200 GPU is an evolution in video cards in much the same way as Solid State Drives are to storage. It feels that big... and so far I've only touched on the graphics side of the product.
There has been the continued mention of parallel computing architecture throughout this article, and for very good reason. The GT200 isn't just a graphics processor, at least not in the sense we have all experienced for the past decades. Beginning with the GT200, you'll need to look at NVIDIA GPUs the same way as you view AMD or Intel CPUs. While they each have their strengths, these days they play more of a multi-purpose role. Intel and AMD processors have long since be capable of lower-level graphics processing (mostly 2D limited), and lately they have "evolved" into four cores. Well, I suppose evolution made a special visit to NVIDIA's TSMC facility because the GT200 has 240 processor cores and can achieve excellent compute-level tasks with high performance results.
What's going to be difficult to pull off is educating the end-user, the consumer, and corporate buyer. After my testing was complete, I experimented with different Intel processors to see what kind of difference they made. Making a long story short, the benchmark results for Crysis at 1920x1200 were virtually identical between the dual-core E8700 and quad-core Q6700. But I already know how this works: Benchmark Reviews recommends that gamers spend more money on the GPU and less on the CPU, and reader promptly dismiss us for NVIDIA fan boys. That same visitor will then read the same opinion at a few other websites and either suspect we're all being paid off (and will probably post something of the sort in a forum somewhere) or they'll begin to suspect that something is actually happening in the world of technology. So after the world reports that the GT200 is a better investment than a new Extreme Edition processor, that visitor will still go out and buy a new quad core and claim the old 7900 GT that's smoldering inside his case.
For everyone else who actually read this entire article, there's a lot going on with the GT200 that is not available anywhere else. For those with deep pockets, NVIDIA SLI technology is taken to unreachable levels with GeForce GTX 200-series graphics cards. NVIDIA PhysX technology, which is becoming mainstream in game development, will require no additional accelerator to enjoy the amazing new graphical effects of upcoming game titles. Even Enterprise computing environments will benefit from CUDA applications coded to make use of the many cores inside the GT200, more threads, double-precision math, and increased register file size.
This idea of heterogeneous computing is what NVIDIA has been working hard to accomplish. Selecting the most appropriate graphics processor is now exactly as important as choosing the right processor any specific task. Please see our NVIDIA GPU Computing FAQ for additional information on this topic.