Fresh off ATI’s RADEON 9800 XT launch, today NVIDIA is countering back with a new card of their own to challenge ATI at the high-end of the market, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra. But if you were expecting a next-generation part, we’ve got bad news for you, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra is not that product. We know that many of you will be disappointed to hear this in particular, but if you look over recent history, this shouldn’t be that surprising.
If you recall the launch of DirectX 8, NVIDIA pounced on the arrival of the new API with its GeForce3 graphics accelerator. The GeForce3 wasn’t a spectacular performance improvement over GeForce2 Ultra, but it supported pixel and vertex shaders in hardware, making it the first DX8 card on the market. NVIDIA then followed GeForce3 up with GeForce3 Titanium approximately seven months later.
GeForce 3 Titanium was essentially nothing more than GeForce3 at higher clock speeds, although newer drivers did enable new features for both cards. The GF3 Titanium wasn’t groundbreaking, but it did bring DirectX 8 gaming to a more feasible price point.
The eVGA GeForce
FX 5900 Ultra and
FX 5950 Ultra
The FX5950 Ultra and
RADEON 9800 XT
Then came GeForce4 Ti. Once again NVIDIA had released a DX8 board, although they added a second vertex shader, increased the clock speeds, and optimized the memory subsystem and pixel shading capabilities for improved performance. GeForce4 was again, nothing revolutionary, but it was enough to hold the market over until the arrival of DirectX 9.
Now that DX9 has been here for nearly a year, we’ve gone through the first and second generation of DX9 graphics cards. Neither ATI or NVIDIA are ready to unveil their 3.0 pixel/vertex shader cards, but at the same time neither wants the lucrative holiday shopping season to go by without a new product to sell. Hence the reason why ATI unveils its RADEON 9800/9600 XT which are essentially the RADEON 9800 PRO/RADEON 9600 PRO from last Spring with higher clock speeds, and NVIDIA is here today with the “new” GeForce FX 5950 Ultra.
We put the word new in quotes because despite the new product name, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra is nothing more than a GeForce FX 5900 Ultra at higher clock speeds.
That’s right, in case you were wondering if you read that line correctly, you didn’t. The GeForce FX 5950 is based on the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra’s NV35 core, which supports NVIDIA’s CineFX 2.0 architecture, UltraShadow technology, and Intellisample HCT. If you’re not up to speed on these terms, you can read more about these features in our GeForce FX 5900 Ultra preview, but we bet you’re dying to know the new clock speeds: 475MHz core/475MHz memory. That’s an increase of 25MHz over GeForce FX 5900 Ultra’s 450MHz core and 50MHz on the memory (100MHz effective).
Like the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, NVIDIA ships GeForce FX 5950 with 256MB of DDR memory and the GeForce FX 5950 occupies two slots, although NVIDIA has come up with a new cooling solution for GeForce FX 5950 Ultra...