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The cards
The G84 GPU begins its career strapped to one of two different graphics cards, the GeForce 8600 GT and its brawnier companion, the 8600 GTS. We have examples of each on hand from XFX, and they look like, well graphics cards—mid-range ones, to be exact, with modest single-slot coolers.


XFX's GeForce 8600 GTS


The 8600 GTS sports a single PCIe aux power connector


XFX's 8600 GT rides on a smaller board and needs no extra power

Both cards sport a pair of dual-link DVI connectors, but only the GTS boasts HDCP support.

The official speeds and feeds on the 8600 series look like so:

 GPUCore
clock (MHz)
SP clock
(MHz)
Memory
clock (MHz)
Memory
interface
Price
range
GeForce 8600 GTSG8467514501000128 bits$199-229
GeForce 8600 GTG845401190700128 bits$149-159

Nvidia's partners have some leeway to improvise on this front, as is their custom. XFX will be selling three different variants of the GeForce 8600 GTS, ranging from a stock-clocked model at $199 to a version that has a 730MHz core, 1.566GHz SPs, and 1.13GHz memory for $239. Similarly, they'll have a stock-speed 8600 GT for $149 and hotter model for $169 that packs a 620MHz core, 1.355GHz SPs, and 800MHz memory. Other Nvidia board partners look to have similar plans, and Gigabyte has even cooked up 8600 GT and GTS cards with passive cooling. The first GeForce 8600 cards should be available now, with broader availability by the end of the month.

An even smaller DX10 GPU? Yep, meet G86
So you've heard the spiel on the G84 GPU and the GeForce 8600 lineup, and I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "That's all well and good, but $149 for a graphics card is kind of steep. What is Apple going to put into its dual-Xeon Mac Pro?" For that, we have the smaller, cheaper G86 GPU.

You can think of the G86 as a G84 with one of its SP clusters removed. The G86 has only a single SP cluster, but that SP cluster shares the G84's capacity for eight texture address ops per clock. Also present are eight ROPs, the improved video decoding logic, and the same 128-bit memory interface.

The cluster-ectomy has dropped the G86 to a total of 210 million transistors (which yields the interesting bit of info that an SP cluster costs about 79 million transistors, since the G84 is 289 million). Like the G84, it's produced on TSMC's 80nm fab process. We don't yet have a G86 in our possession, so I can't give you a die size measurement. The G86 is a separate chip, though, not just G84 silicon with one of its SP clusters deactivated.

The G86 will power a whole host of low-end video cards that looks like so:

 GPUCore
clock (MHz)
SP clock 
(MHz)
Memory
clock (MHz)
Memory
interface
Price
range
GeForce 8500 GTG86450900400128 bits$89-129
GeForce 8400 GSG8645090040064 bitsOEM only
GeForce 8300 GSG8645090040064 bitsOEM only

As noted, the 8300 GS and 8400 GS are low-cost products intended for extremely cost-conscious PC makers, while the GeForce 8500 GT at $89 ought to reach down to the very bottom of the retail graphics card market. The 8300 GS will even have its VP2 video processing logic disabled to underscore its bargain-bin status.