|Palit GeForce 9600 GT 1GB Sonic NE/960TSX0202|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 31 May 2008|
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NE/960TSX0202 Detailed Features
In our last section, we skimmed over the outer skin of Palit's unique-looking Sonic GeForce 9600 GT. With a basic understanding of what you'll get on the outside, we're ready to get inside the product and dissect the technology. This information will be very helpful for those hardware enthusiasts and overclockers willing to void their warranty and potentially ruin their expensive product in order to tweak it's electronics. This information is for entertainment purposes only, and not a recommendation to disassemble your product or perform modifications.
The G94 chip features sixteen render back-end units (ROP) with full support for 128-bit high-dynamic-range rendering and NVIDIA's exclusive 16x Coverage Sampling Anti-aliasing (CSAA) algorithm. The new ROP compression system has also been enhanced to improve performance at extreme resolutions such as 2560 x 1600. The enhanced compression will help keep memory usage in check and improve performance in high resolution, anti-aliased scenarios.
While there are a few rare 256 MB versions of the GeForce 9600 GT which try to cut even more corners, you will usually find 512 MB of video frame buffer on most products from this family. This is where Palit asserts itself to outshine the competition and offer enthusiasts something a bit more forward-thinking, because their Sonic version of the 9600 GT comes equipped with 1024 MB (1 GB) of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1000 MHz (2000 MHz DDR) on a 256-bit bus.
All of that extra speed will generate some heat, which is why Palit also integrates a custom anodized aluminum plate to function as a RAM heatsink. A total of eight Samsung GDDR3 modules line the outer perimeter of the printed circuit board, bearing the Samsung 807 K4J52324QE-BJ08 part number. Hardware enthusiasts should note that these same vRAM modules were also used on late-edition GeForce 8800 Ultra's. This explains how a mid-level model can achieve higher clock speeds than the top GeForce products.
As I prepared to disassemble the Palit 9600 GT Sonic edition video card, I made note of the similarities between this PCB and that of the 8800 GT. Aside from the some very minor components, the design appeared nearly identical to the last generation; if anything there was very little PCB redesign needed on NVIDIA's part. Once I had carefully removed a few screws from the rear corners, and one more screw on the header panel, the shroud came apart from the Palit 9600 GT with a light pull. I immediately realized how much additional engineering went into Palit's dual heat-pipe cooling system.
The GeForce 9600 GT (G94 GPU) is manufactured using 65nm technology, using the same architecture as found in the GeForce 8800 GTS and GeForce 8800 GT video cards. All three of these NVIDIA products utilize the same 9-series architecture and transistor advances over the older G80 GPUs which they replace. The GeForce 9600 GT is comprised of 505-million transistors, which place it among the most complicated GPUs ever made. However, with only 64 enabled stream processors this card falls short of the 128 found in the newer 8800 GTS 512 MB video card. Essentially, NVIDIA has disabled half the GPU cores as a result of unsuccessful stability tests or fabrication defects.
But all of this talk about disabled cores and reduced shaders doesn't mean that the 9600 GT can't get out of its own way. After all, the G94 GPU can operate on 32 bilinear filtered texels per clock. Since the Sonic's core is factory-overclocked to 700 MHz there aren't too many close competitors for clock speed. Even the shader clock is dialed-up to 1750 MHz. So far, these are impressive numbers all on their own. But then when you begin to consider that the Palit version of the GeForce 9600 GT comes with twice as much video frame buffer as the others, you might start to realize that the Sonic is more of a little engine that could.
This concludes our in-depth look into the Palit NE/960TSX0202, which has revealed several interesting discoveries about the hardware and the assembly process. The 9600 GT is a good-looking graphics card, but from here on out the 1 GB Sonic will have to put up some impressive results or be put down as a failed attempt at boosting a mid-level SKU into top-shelf product offerings. In our next section, Benchmark Reviews begins testing on the Palit GeForce 9600 GT video card, but only after we spend some time explain how it's all done here in our lab.