NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX graphics processor

Power MADD

SO DOES IT HAVE new features, better performance, or what? That's generally the first question one might ask when discussing a new generation of graphics chip—or at least, it used to be. That question has become increasingly less relevant as graphics chips have gained the ability to process a rich set of datatypes, including floating-point numbers that can be very accurate representations of light and color. In fact, since the introduction of the Radeon 9700, graphics processors have been capable of rendering just about any sort of effect one might wish to see. The big question now is: can it pump out that sort of tasty eye candy in real time, or is it just a slideshow? There are still some important secondary questions about the arrangement of computational resources on the GPU and how they impact performance, but at the end of the day, a graphics processor is now judged by its real-world computational power.

By that standard, NVIDIA's GeForce 6 series graphics processors have had plenty of success. Now, NVIDIA is back with a new high-end chip, known by the code-name G70, that promises significantly more power than the GeForce 6800 Ultra. To add to the intrigue, the G70 chip is closely related to the RSX graphics processor that NVIDIA is developing for the PlayStation 3. Can NVIDIA duplicate the success of the NV40 series by following it up with a worthy successor? Can the GeForce 7800 GTX really deliver on NVIDIA's claims of up to twice the shader power of the GeForce 6800 Ultra? And if you run a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX cards together in an SLI config, will the fabric of time and space warp? Keep reading for some answers.

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