As we stated earlier, the GeForce 9600 GT consists of roughly 505 million transistors, over 200 million less than G92. So where did all the transistors go? From the stream processors. Whereas the G92 GPU boasts up to 128 stream processors, G94 has half that number, consisting of just 64 stream processors.
65-nm manufacturing process
Like G92, the G94 GPU used in the GeForce 9600 GT is built on TSMC’s 65-nm manufacturing process. The smaller process allows NVIDIA to cram more transistors into G94 without severely increasing the size of the GPU’s die. With a smaller die size, NVIDIA yields more chips per silicon wafer and thus the G94 GPU is cheaper for NVIDIA to produce. This reduced manufacturing cost allows NVIDIA to price the 9600 GT for less than $200 without negatively affecting their overall margins. With the debut of the GeForce 9600 GT, production of the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB and 8800 GS should cease as these cards are essentially more expensive for NVIDIA to produce.
According to NVIDIA, design and process improvements allow them to clock the stream processors at 1625MHz. That’s 275MHz higher than the GeForce 8800 GTX’s shaders and even 125MHz higher than GeForce 8800 GT. Our guess is that the reduced number of transistors also helped play a role in the higher speeds as the chip obviously draws less power and thus generates less heat. NVIDIA states that the max board power for the 9600 GT is 95W, 10W less than the GeForce 8800 GT and the same figure as AMD’s Radeon HD 3850.
Also like G92, NVIDIA has doubled the number of texture address units per texture processing cluster from four to eight. This gives G94 a peak texture filtering rate of 32GTexels/sec. In comparison, the GeForce 8800 GTS can filter just 24GTexels/sec peak. G94 also incorporates the same enhanced color and z-compression found in G92.
The following chart summarizes the key features found in today’s latest mainstream cards:
|Mainstream Graphics Comparison Table|
|GeForce 8800 GT||GeForce 8600 GTS||GeForce 9600 GT||Radeon HD 3870||Radeon HD 3850|
|# of Transistors||754M||289M||505M||666M||666M|
|Graphics Core Clock||600MHz||675MHz||650MHz||777MHz||670MHz|
|Shader Clock (Stream Processors)||1500MHz||1450MHz||1625MHz||777MHz||670MHz|
|# of Stream Processors||112||32||64||320||320|
|Memory Clock Speed||900MHz (1.8GHz effective)||1.0GHz (2.0GHz effective)||900MHz (1.8GHz effective)||1125MHz (2.25GHz effective)||900MHz (1.8GHz effective)|
|Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)||57.6GB/sec||32GB/sec||57.6GB/sec||72GB/sec||57.6GB/sec|
|# of ROPs||16||8||16||16||16|
|PCI Express Interface||PCIe 2.0||PCIe 1.1||PCIe 2.0||PCIe 2.0||PCIe 2.0|
Not mentioned in the chart above is the GeForce 9600 GT’s estimated MSRP: $189. The card essentially replaces the GeForce 8600 GTS, which will now do battle at the $150 and under mark. We should also note that G94 offers the same improved video introduced with G92 and the chip also supports HDMI as well as DisplayPort. NVIDIA’s board partners have the option of including HDMI or DisplayPort natively on the back plane of the card, or including HDMI support via an adapter. In fact, one of the 9600 GT cards we’re looking at today supports all three display options!