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Creative Labs Annihilator2 Ultra Review - Introduction

By: Brian Gray - October 29, 2000

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Introduction

When the Annihilator2 hit the market, it shocked a few of the hardware reviewers with a $299 price mark. Most GeForce2 cards had been targeted at around $350, so the retail price wars started.  Then the 64MB version of the GeForce2 GTS was unleashed onto the public creating a new standard in the high end market.  The 64MB card eliminates the need for texture compression and opens more resolutions to FSAA due to the additional memory available to the frame buffer. Oddly enough, Creative decided not to release a 64MB card.

...Until now.

The Ultra

The announcement of the GeForce2 Ultra was both exciting and disappointing. Many of us wanted to see the NV20 for the fall, but unfortunately, either outside influences, or internal tweaking have prevented the project from hitting the light of day. NVIDIA released the NV16 to the public, otherwise known as GeForce2 Ultra. The NV16 had been part of the internal roadmap, but may have not surfaced had everything gone off with the NV20 and DirectX 8.

Let's get up to speed one more time on the GeForce2 Ultra.

GeForce2 Ultra Specifications

  GeForce2 GTS GeForce2 Ultra
Process Technology .18 micron .18 micron
Core/Memory Speed 200MHz/333MHz 250MHz/460MHz
Memory Amount 32/64MB 64MB
Memory Bandwidth 5.3GB/Sec 7.4GB/Sec
Pixels/Clock 4 4
Pixels/Second 800 Million 1000 Million
Texels/Clock 8 8
Texels/Second 1600 Million 2000 Million
Polygons/Second 25 Million 31 Million

We have seen in the nV News preview that the Ultra has what it takes to be very fast. Insanely high clockspeeds and an immense amount of memory bandwidth add up to incredible gaming precision.

Creative's Turn

The main difference between the standard 64MB card and the Ultra is the PCB. I know many will argue that the memory is the biggest change from GTS 64MB to Ultra, but if you do not redesign the board, you are wasting your time. Why? The original 64MB board was not designed to handle the clock speeds of the Ultra, core or memory. The best comparison I can draw is taking a 350 Chevy V-8 and putting 1/2" exhaust pipes on it. More on this later...

Basically, you could put 4ns memory on the standard board and be lucky to get to 450MHz. NVIDIA worked with Creative to design the reference PCB for the Ultra. By waiting to produce the Annihilator2 Ultra as their 64MB card, Creative hopes to be first on the shelves. Besides, if you have the coin to drop $420 on a video card, why not shell the extra $80 and get the Ultra? At least, that's what Creative hopes will happen.

Annihilator2 Ultra

So is there any reason to choose the Annihilator2 Ultra over other Ultras? The Annihilator2 Ultra does not outright win the price war, unlike its little brother, but can Creative Labs continue the tradition of outstanding product and driver support? Let's start with a look at the card.

Next Page: The Card

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Last Updated on October 29, 2000

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