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GeForce3 Titanium Preview
By: Mike Chambers - October 1, 2001

Introduction

Today NVIDIA will be announcing their 2001 lineup which consists of three graphics chipsets branded with the Titanium name. At the high-end of the spectrum is the souped-up GeForce3 Ti 500, which is positioned towards the gaming enthusiast. In the performance category is the GeForce3 Ti 200 which is positioned against the six month old GeForce3 and in the mainstream category is the GeForce2 Ti.

NVIDIA Graphics 2001 Fall Lineup

Market Spring 2001 Fall 2001
Enthusiast GeForce3 GeForce3 Ti 500
Performance GeForce2 Ultra GeForce3 Ti 200
Mainstream GeForce2 Pro
GF2 MX 200/400
GeForce2 Ti 200
GF2 MX 200/400
Value TNT2 Pro
Vanta
TNT2 Pro
Vanta

Those of us who keep close tabs on NVIDIA have come to realize that the fall refresh typically consists of a performance infusion at the high-end model. This happens to be the case with the GeForce3 Ti 500 as both the processor and memory clock speeds have increased over the GeForce3. Other than the differences in clockspeed, there are no new features that the GeForce3 Titanium series of chipsets have over the GeForce3. However, with the new Detonator XP driver, all GeForce3 based graphics cards now have hardware support for shadow buffers and 3D textures.

With the core of the Titanium being produced using TSMC's 0.15-micron-enhanced process, the graphics processing unit of the GeForce3 Ti 500 has increased to 240MHz. This represents a 20% increase over the 200MHz core clock speed of the GeForce3. On the other hand, the memory clock speed on the GeForce3 Ti 500 has only increased by 9% over the GeForce3 to 500MHz. Assuming that the memory is rated at 3.8ns, which is standard on the GeForce3, 520MHz should be achievable but requires that the memory be manually overclocked.

GPU and Memory Clock Speeds

Chipset GPU Speed Memory Speed
GeForce3 Ti 500 240MHz 500MHz
GeForce3 200MHz 460MHz
GeForce3 Ti 200 175MHz 400MHz
GeForce2 Ultra 250MHz 460MHz
GeForce2 Ti 250MHz 400MHz
GeForce2 Pro 200MHz 400MHz

Using the stock cooling measures on the reference GeForce3 Ti 500, I was able to stabilize my system with a 240MHz processor clock speed and a 550MHz memory clock speed. However, this may not be as impressive if you consider that I've been able to push the Titan 3 from OCZ Technologies up to 240MHz/560MHz. But in fairness, the Titan 3 is a custom cooled GeForce3 which continues to command a premium price. With the suggested retail price of the GeForce3 Ti 500 coming in at $349 at product launch, it will be difficult for consumers to justfiy the extra cost as the price of the GeForce3 has dropped in the $250-$275 range.

GeForce3 Ti 500

Looking further down the fall lineup, we see the GeForce3 Ti 200 coming in with clock speeds lower than the GeForce3, but positioned against the GeForce2 Ultra. Although I will not be receiving a GeForce3 Ti 200 to test until this week, it should be able to easily outperform the GeForce2 Ultra - especially with the performance enhancements we've seen with the GeForce3 and the Detonator XP drivers. The launch price of the GeForce3 Ti 200 will be around $199.

GeForce3 Ti 200

Choices at the mainstream level are somewhat easier to deal with. With the GeForce2 Ti sporting a 50MHz faster core clock speed than the GeForce2 Pro, it should offer better performance. While the price of the GeForce2 Pro is around $125, the estimated price of the GeForce2 Ti will be $149. Keep in mind that the prices that are being quoted are suggested by NVIDIA and that add-on card manufacturers will ultimately determine their own prices.

GeForce2 Ti

The benefits of the GeForce3 are not covered in this article and won't be repeated here, but certain features are eluded to during the course of the preview. However, if I were to briefly summarize the key benefits of the GeForce3, they would be as follows:

  • Programmable Graphics Processor - Although the GeForce3 contains the legacy fixed functioned transform and lighting processor, it also has a programmable transform and lighting processor. This feature allows developers to create specialized low-level programs, referred to as pixel or vertex shaders, to generate custom graphics effects. Vertex and pixel shaders are slowly being adopted by developers as we've seen them used in applications such as 3DMark2001's Nature demo, AquaMark, GLMark, and the custom illumination model in DroneZ.


  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture - Or more specifically the crossbar memory architecture. As real-time 3D graphics requires a tremendous amount of memory bandwith, the crossbar architecture maximizes throughput of today's high speed graphics memory. The benefits of this technology can be seen by comparing performance between the GeForce2 Ultra and GeForce3 at high resolutions.


  • Antialiasing - Unlike the GeForce and GeForce2, antialiasing was designed in hardware on the GeForce3. Even at resolutions as high as 1280x1024, antialiasing can be used effectively on the GeForce3.


  • Anisotropic Texture Filtering - This advanced method of advanced texture filtering provides superior texture quality compared to bilinear and trilinear filtering alone. NVIDIA's implementation of anisotropic filtering is among the best in the consumer based graphics market in terms of image quality and performance.

For a detailed look at the technology behind the GeForce3, please refer to our preview.

Next Page: The Detonator XP Difference

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Last Updated on October 1, 2001

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