Nvidia has announced it will release a graphics chip that matches Advanced Micro Device's manufacturing process--an advantage that the latter has often touted.
The Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+, announced Thursday, is made on a 55-nanometer process. Current Nvidia processors--including the just-released GTX 200 series--are made on a slightly "fatter" 65nm process. AMD has moved most of its graphics chips to a 55nm process.
Typically, the smaller the process, the more energy-efficient a processor is. Smaller processes also typically offer better performance. Tech Web site PC Perspective has photos showing that the chip package is smaller than a 65nm Nvidia part.
The GeForce 9800 GTX+ will be competitively priced. "It's an enthusiast category graphics product, but it's going to be offered at $229 when it hits retail next month," said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesperson. It is slated to hit retail shelves on July 14.
AMD introduced new Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 graphics chips on Monday. These will start at just less than $200 and range up to about $300, making the 9800 GTX+ a direct competitor.
(Update: PC Perspective had this to say about the HD 4850 versus the 9800 GTX+: "The AMD Radeon HD 4850 and the NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+ appear to be nearly equally matched in price and performance." The HD 4850 is now being offered by resellers. Prices range roughly from $189 to $220.)
"We've come to expect these cunningly timed product announcements from Nvidia every time AMD announces a new Radeon graphics card, said.
Specifications for the 9800 GTX+ include a core clock speed of 738MHz, a shader clock running at 1836MHz, and 512MB GDDR3 memory rated at 1100MHz. The prior-generation 9800 model had a core clock speed of 675MHz and a shader clock speed of 1688MHz.
The platform also supports adding a second or third 9800 GTX+ board using the Scalable Link Interface.
Support for game physics and transcoding is also key to the product. "One of the key differentiators is something we introduced with the GTX 260 and 280 (just released Monday) and is moving down through the rest of our product offerings--support for Physics and, with CUDA, it supports transcoding," Brown said.
CUDA is Nvidia's C language programming environment. Transcoding is the conversion of a movie, for example, from one format to another.