Since the release of Nvidia's
7800 and ATI's X1800 series the graphics card
market has seen a deluge of product refreshes
to the current generation which bring to market
enhanced specifications and claims of improved
performance. The product Nvidia are launching
today is the 7950GT, as of 9AM PST it will be
possible to buy the cards online and in some conventional
stores, so lets take a look at Nvidia' reference
design, and more importantly a retail branded
version in the form of Palit's 7950GT 512mb.
The Palit 7950GT 512Mb
Palits Geforce 7950 GT's properties are shown
above, the card uses the PCI-Express bus and
runs at a full 16x. As with all recent high end
Nvidia cards the TV encoder is integrated, in
addition to this Nvidia believe that the majority
of 7950GT's will come with HDCP support enabled.
Shown above are two versions of
the 7950GT. The top left (red) card is Palit's
own version and the top right (green) card is
the Nvidia reference design. One of the selling
points Nvidia are keen to focus on in their pre
launch press information is that this card is
designed to run with single slot cooling so it
is interesting to see Palit opting for a dual
slot cooler. Due to some PCB layout redesigning
on the Palit board the memory layout is different
and the card features some extra capacitors (accommodated
by some extra PCB, approx 1.5cm). The memory layout
changes and the redesigned cooler also combine
to increase the airflow over the memory chips,
however on the Palit card there is no contact
between the heat sink and memory chips.
Speaking of memory chips, both
the Palit and reference cards come with 512mb
of Gddr3 and both cards use memory clocks of 700Mhz
(1.4Ghz actual data rate) connected via
a 256bit bus. The choice of manufacturer differs
with Nvidia choosing Infineon and Palit opting
for Samsung. Looking at the part numbers used
on each chip we can tell that the Samsung's are
rated up to 800Mhz (K4J52324QC-BJ12) where as
the Infineon's are rated to only 700Mhz (HYB18H512321AF-14
) which means we have some real headroom on the
Samsung's for over clocking tests later.
On the rear of the Palit card we find nothing
out of the ordinary, the design looks no different
to most cards other than the large heat sink
connection plate which offers tool-less removal
of the cooler.
Finally turning to the side of the card we find
the outputs used by Palit which are TV-out (Composite
and HDTV) as well as two dual-link DVI ports.
The bundled components that come with the 7950GT
from Palit are almost identical to their 7900GT
which we recently reviewed. Included with the
card we find a video out cable, DVI>VGA connector,
power connector which allows those with older
PSUs to power the card via the 6-pin connector
and various software including Toca3 and PowerDVD6.
Shown above is the core from our
7950 GT, it is a version of the G71 which was
also used on various 7900 series models. The G71
is a 90nm chip which features 24 pixel pipelines,
8 vertex shaders, 16 ROPS and comes clocked at
550Mhz (though the vertex units are actually clocked
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