Right now, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 260 Reloaded and AMD's Radeon HD 4870 1GB are basically neck-and-neck in terms of pricing. However, the AMD card has a smaller GPU and a narrower memory interface, which almost certainly makes it cheaper to produce. According to Expreview, Nvidia is hard at work streamlining its design to keep costs down.
The Chinese site says the original GTX 260 Reloaded used a P654 reference design with 14 circuit board layers, an "expensive Volterra chip," and a 65nm graphics processor. The latest design includes the new 55nm GT200b GPU, 10 PCB layers, and no Volterra chip. Expreview claims Nvidia is now prepping a third design refresh—code-named P897—that will introduce several extra cost-cutting measures:
According to the P897 design plan that NVIDIA sends its partners, it uses 4/6 phase NVVDD power solution ADP4100. It changes FBVDDQ power solution from 2-phase to single phase. And the MOSFET package has been changed from LFPAK to DPAK to save cost. Another noticeable change is the PCB layer decreases from 10 to 8. The length of PCB keeps unchanged, while the height of it is reduced by 1.5cm. In order to cut cost further, they will change DVI connector, crystal and probably change BIOS Rom from 1M to 512K.
These modifications will supposedly trim costs by "$10 to $15," which could allow Nvidia to undercut AMD—if it decides to pass on the savings on to consumers, that is. You can start trying to hunt down P897-based GeForce GTX 260 cards in the third week of this month, if Expreview has its facts straight.
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