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    NVIDIA GeForceFX 5600 Ultra (Reference)

Product :

GeForce FX 5900 Ultra

Manufacturer :


Reviewed by :

Wayne Brooker

Price :


Date :

June 24th, 2003.


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In a world where convergence seems to be the word of the moment it seems odd that the graphics card industry seems so hell-bent on divergence. Different architectures performing functions in increasingly different ways with no real industry standard to glue it all together is making life hell for the discerning buyer and the hardware analyst who genuinely cares about his or her results and the message they convey. As the PC market has grown beyond anyone's wildest expectations so it's taken increasingly bold measures to get noticed and with these measures have come accusations of unfair optimisations, benchmark rigging and generally unsavory deeds driven more by political wranglings than by the desire to further the industry towards its ultimate aim of high resolution, real-time photo-realistic 3D rendering for the masses.

Feature GeForce FX 5900 GeForce FX 5600 GeForce FX 5200
CineFX Engine
CineFX 2.0 Engine
Intellisample Technology
Intellisample HCT
nView Technology
Maximum Memory
338 million
88 million
81 million


Well, you'll be pleased to hear that I've decided to completely duck the issues of who's cheating at what and just hit the ground running with a simple, uncomplicated look at the GeForce 5600 Ultra. There are plenty of forums around where you can read about or make comment on who you think has sunk the lowest in their quest for domination of the high end graphics market, our own included, but for the next few pages I'm going to pretend it never happened. Neither of the big players, ATi and NVIDIA, are entirely blameless any more than either of them are entirely guilty, so let's put that issue aside for another day.

The graphics card on the bench for today's review is the GeForceFX 5600 Ultra. This is a reference card and is based on the newer Flip Chip GPU with its increased core and memory frequencies. The core has been increased from 350 to 400 MHz as has the memory making for an 800MHz effective memory clock. This results in an increase in memory bandwidth from 11.2 to 12.8 MB/Sec and an increase in pixel and texel fillrate from 1400 to 1600 Mpixels/sec.

These increases in frequency were due in part to the switch to a new Flip Chip design GPU.

So what's Flip Chip? Well, in very simple terms it involves literally flipping the chip so the core is on the bottom. This means that rather than having to transfer connections down to the PCB with fine wires arranged around the perimeter of the chip (known as wire bonding) the core can be connected directly to the PCB.
There are many benefits to this. One is that the shorter connection paths leads to a reduction in resistance, capacitance and inductance. Another advantage is that chips with relatively small perimeters are not limited in the number of connections available as they would be using the wire bonding process.

Of course it's not all good news, there are some disadvantages but fortunately none that affect the user as they are mainly problems linked to testing and handling at the manufacturing stage.

Anyway, enough small talk, let's get stuck in with a look at the card we'll be testing.




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