NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra

by Anand Lal Shimpi on August 14, 2000 9:01 AM EST
The Cost

With very fast memory, high yield chips, and a minimum of 64MB of SDRAM on the cards, how expensive do you think the new GeForce2 Ultra will be?  It’s definitely not going to be at the $400 mark the 64MB GeForce2 GTS cards began selling at, nope, you’re looking at around $500 for a GeForce2 Ultra

We whined and moaned when we realized how expensive 3dfx’s forthcoming Voodoo5 6000 would be (approximately $600), and we’re going to do the exact same for NVIDIA’s GeForce2 Ultra. 

At $500, it’s going to be very difficult to justify purchasing the GeForce2 Ultra; while it will obviously be the fastest thing available (as you will soon see by the benchmarks), the cost of that performance is, for most users, entirely too much.  With a fairly well equipped PC falling in the $1500 - $2000 range, spending 1/3 or 1/4 of your total computer cost on a video card will be a stretch for most wallets. 

Especially with new products from 3dfx, ATI and Matrox on the way, at least one of which will be released in the very near future, $500 spent now (or when the GeForce2 Ultra is actually available in 30 – 45 days) may earn you a self-inflicted kick in the pants later on if any of the aforementioned companies can execute properly and deliver a superior product for much less. 

The Memory

The memory is obviously what makes the GeForce2 Ultra what it is.  The reference board we received made use of 4ns ESMT SDRAM (M13L641664 4T), which is rated at 250MHz DDR (500MHz).  This should bring up a red flag since the Ultra is rated at a 460MHz memory clock, which should be able to be attained using 4.5ns memory. 

According to NVIDIA, the reason for the lower memory rating on the card itself is because, by decreasing the memory clock to 460MHz, they could get the best overall balance of performance and yield on their boards.  This also means that the memory overclocking potential for these cards should be quite good, with a 500MHz clock not too far fetched of an idea. 

NVIDIA quite possibly refrained from positioning the Ultra as having a 500MHz memory clock because of yields on the 4ns DDR SDRAM, since in our tests it would not go above 505MHz while it is rated for 500MHz operation.  Since 4ns DDR SDRAM hasn’t been in production for that long, it can be expected that the yields on the chips is not as great as some of the “slower” chips.  In the future this may change, but for now it makes sense for NVIDIA to sacrifice some memory performance for higher overall yields on cards. 

The Chip Hot Memory
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