NVIDIA’s 65nm process has well proven it’s worth in the upper-midend market. In bid of creating lower priced chipsets, G94’s birth spells great news for bargain hunters. We pick through the flood of cards to deliver this review, featuring offerings fron Inno3D, Palit and XFX.

Shaking off the old fats of the G80, NVIDIA has successfully shrunk the G80 into the G92, the latter of which spawned the 8800GT, 8800GS

and 8800GTS 512MB graphics accelerators. With us today is the Geforce 9600GT, based on the G94 graphics acceleration chipset (specifically the G94-300). G94

is wafer-ed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) using the 65nm process. (TSMC currently offers fabbing down to 45nm)

Stacko!

Within the 65nm die lies some 64 shader processors, which by default pushes data around at 1750MHz. The graphics core is clocked at

650MHz, which isn’t quite a big number by today’s standards. NVIDIA’s partners do know that too; out of the four candidates with us today, no less than three

are factory-clocked above mainstream specifications. Memory wise, we’re still looking at 1ns gDDR3 BGAs clocked at 900MHz on a 256 bit memory bus. You can be

sure NVIDIA didn’t shortchange users on memory bandwidth this time around. Below is a comparison chart between the vanilla 9600GT specifications, and that of

a few other recent options floating around the midend market.

Model 9600GT 512MB 8800GS 384MB 8800GTS 512MB 8800GT 512MB HD3850 512MB 8800GTS 320MB/640MB 8800GTX
Stream Processors 64 96 128 112 320 96 128
Fab Process 65nm 65nm 65nm 65nm 55nm 90nm 90nm
Core Clock (MHz) 650 575 575 600 668 500 575
Shader Clock (GHz) 1.625 1.35 1.625 1.5 1.2 1.35
Memory Clock (MHz) 1800 DDR 1700 DDR 1800 DDR 1800 DDR 1656 DDR 1600 DDR 1800 DDR
Memory Type GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3
Memory Interface 256bit 192bit 256bit 256bit 256bit 320bit 384bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s) 57.6 40.8 62.21 57.6 52.99 64 86.4
Texture Fillrate (billion/sec) 20.8 27.6 41.6 33.6 10.688 24 36.8
Power Connector One One One One One One Two

By now, it should be apparent that the G94 chipset is poised to replace the G84, more commonly known as the GeForce 8600 series. G84 had

just reached it’s end-of-line status on Valentines Day about a week ago. As usual, the G94 9600GT will be priced according to the performance hierachy of the

GeForce family. NVIDIA AIB partners meanwhile are in a rush to clear their (large) inventories of last-gen G84 graphics accelerators to faciliate the

introduction of the 9600GT.

Losing balance…

Previous generations of midend DX10 graphics accelerators didn’t quite cut it for practical DX10 gaming. Gamers on a budget are hoping (or

rather, expecting) either of the two graphics giants to come in with new offerings to fill the performance gap. In the past months, we’ve heard immense

bitchings about the 8600GT/8600GTS’s measly 32 Shader Processors (SP) on the G84. Simply said, the 8600GT/GTS ain’t quite as fast as what consumers expected

midend graphics accelerators to be. At that point in time, the G80 8800GTS/GTX already had 3-4 times that number of SP at hand. The G94 happens to be

NVIDIA’s answer to gamers’ prayers; beefed up to 64SP, the 9600GT drops neatly onto the middle rung of the performance ladder, somewhat below the dearer

8800GT.