Nvidia: We need a simpler product line

To see just how confusing Nvidia’s product diversification can be, just take a glance at the GeForce 8800 lineup. Nvidia started with the 8800 GTS 640MB and 8800 GTX, later adding the 8800 GTS 320MB and 8800 Ultra. Then, late last year, we got to meet the new, G92-based 8800 GT 512MB, 8800 GT 256MB, 8800 GTS 512MB, 8800 GS 384MB, and 8800 GS 768MB. That’s not counting the 9800 GTX, which is essentially a souped-up 8800 GTS 512MB, and the 9600 GSO, which is a re-branded 8800 GS.

This alphabet soup may soon come to an end, though. GamesIndustry.biz quotes Nvidia Content Business Development VP Roy Taylor as saying Nvidia’s current product line is "over complicated and too confusing for many customers." Taylor added, "It is a challenge that we’re looking at right now. There is a need to simplify it for consumers, there’s no question." According to Taylor, Nvidia must solve that problem if it wants to broaden its appeal.  Indeed, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated last month that he wants Nvidia GPUs in more consumer PCs.

If Nvidia comes up with a simpler product line and naming scheme, it will be following in the footsteps of AMD. With its new Radeon HD 3000 series of graphics cards, AMD’s graphics division has largely shed two- and three-letter suffices and started using model numbers to denote performance in a (relatively) consistent way. One notable exception is the Radeon HD 3870 X2, whose "X2" suffix denotes its two GPUs.

Comments closed
    • Jive
    • 12 years ago

    I miss those naming schemes when it was just:
    Geforce 3 Ti 4200
    Geforce 3 Ti 4400
    Geforce 3 Ti 4600

    Simple and easy, why not go back to that…

      • Saber Cherry
      • 12 years ago

      Partly because “Geforce 3 Ti 4200” is still too confusing, and the 3 and 4 are contradictory.

      Geforce 4200
      Geforce 4400
      Geforce 4600

      …that makes sense: XXXXXX YZ00, where XXXXXX is the brand name, Y is the architectural generation, Z is the relative performance level within the generation, and 00 is some zeros that marketing can add to make it look like a bigger (therefore better) number.

    • moose17145
    • 12 years ago

    wait… didn’t they used to have a solution to all this years ago? I think it went something like this if memory serves correct

    x200
    x200 Ultra
    x600
    x600 Ultra
    x800
    x800 Ultra (or replace 800 with 900 and you pretty much have the same thing)

    Not saying they need to bring back the Ultra, but going back to this basic naming scheme and following it would fix much of the confusion.

    Of if you needed to have more names for junk because you had more video cards just follow something like this

    Number (vanilla)
    Number Ultra
    Number GTX

    ATI did the same thing back when they introduced the XT’s

    9600
    9600 Pro
    9600 XT
    9800
    9800 Pro
    9800 XT

    See… Simple!

    Sorry… guess i just dont understand why they need to evaluate how to make it simpler when they already have a way of making their naming simple.

      • Meadows
      • 12 years ago

      Please show me a GeForce 7600 Ultra (as per your naming conventions).
      Better yet, a 6200 Ultra. 😉

        • moose17145
        • 12 years ago

        well i was going way back into the days of the FX series of cards… meaning we are still in the 5×00 series. There they did in fact have a FX 5200 Ultra, as well as a FX 5600 Ultra. And like i said, they wouldn’t HAVE to go back to the ultra… just follow that general naming scheme. Maybe something like
        (vanilla)
        GT
        GTX

        or

        GT
        GTS
        GTX

        Doesn’t matter what they choose, just some set of standard pre or postfixes that denote where in the like that particular card falls in terms of performance.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    It won’t do a bit of good unless the numbers consistently show the faster GPU…Intel’s done a pretty good job of this by differentiating different CPU types by teh first number…an E6600 is faster than an E4600. The only possible difference is in the pair of 2MB E6x00 chips.

    But with both AMD (where their CPUs don’t really suffer from this but their GPUs still do) and nVidia, the numbers still aren’t terribly indicative of performance – an 8400 should be faster than a 7900, and a Radeon HD 3450 should be faster than the HD 2900. So I think that at least for a few years, they could do the same thing as Intel – the first number be the relative performance, the second number be within that family…

    8400 and successors become the GeForce Awesome X 2000 family
    8600 and successors become the GeForce Awesome X 3000 family
    8800 and successors become the GeForce Awesome X 4000 family

    And then each generation, bump the hundreds number by 1 or 2. So if the 8800GT is the Awesome X 4000, the 9800GTX should be the Awesome X 4100 and the 9800GX2 should be the Awesome X 4500.

      • Joshvar
      • 12 years ago

      I’d buy one of each if they actually included Awesome in the name. Reminds me of the GF4 series; 4200/4400/4600 with different price points, basically speed-binned, but that was easy for people who said “I have $200; what should I get?”

      And I don’t mind the GX2 addition, simply because it’s such a different beast, and sells in such limited quantities. For AMD, I think keeping the x2/x3/x4 commonality between CPU and GPU setups would help tie the families together (even though they have nothing in common).

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 12 years ago

        Except for the GeForce4MX, that was actually a GeForce2MX with a new name. We actually had people post on the forums that they were disappointed after they “upgraded” from a Geforce3 to a GeForce4MX, when they actually lost performance and an entire DirectX generation.

          • Richie_G
          • 12 years ago

          I fell into that very trap…

      • cobalt
      • 12 years ago

      Kind of the transpose of the first two digits? I think NVIDIA’s actually doing something similar with their Quadro line: the 4500 and 5500 were G70/G71, the 4600 and 5600 are G80, and the 5700 is G92. I’m not sure it’s any better, but it’s probably not any worse either.

      One big problem is that the generation and cripple-factor are each major contributions to the performance, so a 7/9, 8/8, and 9/6 are all in similar performance tiers, (e.g. 7900GTX, 8800GS, and 9600GSO). I’m not sure how to place an equivalent semantic weight on each of these two factors, since there must be an ordering when using them in a model number.

    • GTVic
    • 12 years ago

    Web sites don’t help either. Intel, AMD and NVidia all have code names that either refer to a family of products or a subset and then they have all the actual product names once in production.

    All the tech sites freely switch between these naming schemes and unless you have the time to keep on top of it, you can quickly lose track and interest. How about a handy reference???

    Like others have said, the sheer volume of names makes people shrug and give up which leads to lost sales and skipping what could have been informative articles. Calling people ignorant because they don’t want to waste time memorizing all this crap is moronic.

    All of this is easy to fix. The manufacturers and tech sites could all do better.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 12 years ago

    they gotta get rid of the last gen products somehow.
    anyone wanna buy a geforce4mx? it’s a gf4, so you must be getting dx8.

    • ThelvynD
    • 12 years ago

    I actually prefer the way ATI has done away with the GT, XT, LE scheme and gone to the numbers it’s more clear as to what level of card you are buying by just looking for the higher number rather than guessing as to which GT, XT or whatever is the best. Intel and AMD saw this long ago when they changed thier numbering scheme to a simpler pattern rather than continuing to use the MHz that they loved using back in the P4 days. nVidia really has been a bit behind on getting on this numbering scheme for awhile now it’s good that they finally realize this.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 12 years ago

    They are running out of numbers, it’s tough to start over.

    ATi started over, they went from the the 9X series are are now back to 3X. Summer introduces the 4X series, right?

      • Meadows
      • 12 years ago

      ATI never started over. The 9 series was followed by the X series, which is Roman for 10, and also has some geek factor (look at Microsoft, they even overuse it with all the DirectX and XBoXXx voodoo), and decided to mash 4 numbers behind it, once their first X series got full. Then they ditched X and replaced it with HD for some reason, when their card is not someone’s choice for anything HD.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 12 years ago

        HD emphasized that ATI’s cards supported HDCP properly when NVidia’s did not and ATI’s cards accelerated more HD video codecs than NVidia’s did. That’s not nearly as wacky as most of the naming insanity that we have been subjected to.

        GeForce4MX = GeForce2MX was probably one of the most egregious abuses that jumps to mind. Radeon 9100=8500 wasn’t quite as bad.

    • bthylafh
    • 12 years ago

    At last.

    I suppose this confirms that “X” and “Extreme” aren’t trendy any longer. Gods be praised.

      • Richie_G
      • 12 years ago

      The film xXx took care of that I think.

    • cegras
    • 12 years ago

    It will never be simple, since all nvidia is doing is renaming old products to new products.

    • Majiir Paktu
    • 12 years ago

    Yes, Nvidia is a bit weird with their naming scheme.

    But if you can’t understand the difference between a 9600GT and an 8800GT, you clearly have not done enough research on your product anyway, and therefore you cannot expect to be satisfied with your results anyway. If you are a good shopper, you will understand it, and their product naming isn’t a problem at all.

    Consumer responsibility, folks. You can’t blame the manufacturer if you buy a product that doesn’t do what you expect it to do, solely based on a misunderstanding of their numbering system.

      • Saber Cherry
      • 12 years ago

      Totally. If nVidia releases two different products with the same name, and the consumer buys the wrong one, the consumer is clearly an uneducated moron who deserves to be fooled. And if you go to the store to buy a 8800 GT but all they have are the 8800 GTS, 9600 GT, 9600 GSO, and 8800 GS… well if it isn’t obvious to you which one is equivalent to the one you had planned to buy, then you’re probably too dumb to open the box anyway.

      And then there are people other than Majiir Paktu. People who want to spend their time using a computer instead of studying nVidia’s nonsensical and intentionally misleading marketing schemes… or want to spend their time studying computer hardware, rather than using a computer. But I don’t know anyone who wants to study nVidia’s marketing terminology.

        • Majiir Paktu
        • 12 years ago

        Firstly, if the consumer is buying a product based on its name (i.e. wants an 8800 GTS 512 and accidently buys an 8800 GTS 640) they’re already doing enough research to know better. Do people complain about the 8800 GTS 640 vs the 8800 GTS 320? Nope; they have very different performance under some circumstances, and just like anything, you should be sure of what you buy. If the consumer does /[

          • Peffse
          • 12 years ago

          I follow tech sites quite often, and even I’m confused when it comes to Nvidia’s naming scheme. For a while I couldn’t figure out why the 8800GT was suppose to be better than a 8800GTS (other than G92 being shouted everywhere). Or why exactly a 8800GS exists, how it relates to a GT and if it’s better or worse than a GTS (still don’t know). Blaming the customer alone is not what should happen, a lot of the blame should be put on Nvidia for not informing the customer. Apparently they realize this, and are taking steps to correct it. A customer should be able to make an informed purchase having to check benchmarking tech sites. Do you check benchmarking sites to see if a specific toaster fits two or four pieces of bread? Do you have to check various sites to see what a car’s EPA rating is? How about how many gears a mountain bike has. Although it is good practice to check… No, they all inform you before you make a purchase. I’m actually surprised both AMD and Nvidia have gotten away with this for so long. Usually with companies deadlocked in competition, each comes up with an easier way for the customer to purchase their product (such as Intel’s P4 GHz fiasco, haha).

          • ludi
          • 12 years ago

          Doesn’t change the fact that if the customer is having trouble working through the naming scheme, they may not buy at all, or else buy the wrong thing and then complain that “Company X makes a poor-performing product, I wish I had bought Company Y’s awesome product I’ve been hearing about.”

          Seriously, have you never heard people griping about having too many choices in the toothpaste aisle? That costs less than $5. People looking to spend anywhere from $100-500 are going to have a substantially higher and louder grievance if they end up with the wrong thing. As such, the smart company is going to make their product grades reasonably easy to differentiate, and apparently Nvidia finally ate their carrots.

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      It doesn’t have to be a difference between products. It comes down to consumers will shrug when looking at so many naming schemes, and either not buy any of them out of frustration, or buy the wrong one than they were hoping for, and get angry.

      As for knowing the difference between two numbers, seriously, how is any casual gamer that dabbles in 3d going to keep up to date on this stuffg{

      • Joshvar
      • 12 years ago

      I’ve read every review on TR (and Ars before!) and Anandtech for going on 9 years, usually within a couple of days of it being posted. I’ve read at least one review on just about every website that reviews hardware in English. I could probably spout off damn near a book’s worth of information about various pieces of hardware to come out since the Matrox Millenium. Yeah, the PCI one that accepted daughtercards. I overclocked my 486, too. I go way back and have plenty of room to go.

      But I couldn’t name more than half of the current Nvidia lineup of cards to save my life (and I’m more knowledgable about their lineup than the ATI side). At this point, I’ve picked out a few as my “favorites” that I recommend, and would purchase if the need arose, but other than that, I ignore the rest. If, as a rather well educated consumer, I couldn’t tell you how an 8400GS fit into the lineup, or what GSO signified, what’s the point? If you differentiate your products to the point of absurdity (which began with the 5 series), you’re going to confuse customers. Alphabet soup shouldn’t have been spilled on graphics cards, and the sooner they clean it up, the better. Do people really want $5 increments in card prices (considering that you’re sometimes buying more memory than performance???).

        • achaycock
        • 12 years ago

        I could not have worded this better myself. I too have been dealing with computers from well before the 486 days and yet even I can’t tell you which one is necessarily better then the other. To be honest, the sheer number of similarly performing G90/G92 cards out there is actually causing me to be bored with them.

        Incidentally when I advised a friend of mine what graphics card to buy for his new PC, I was outlining the different nvidia and ATI solutions and he ended up selecting the HD3870, primarily because he could clearly see where it cam in ATI’s lineup. The 8/9 series nvidia lineup was so murky that he just gave up with it.

        • Meadows
        • 12 years ago

        Nonsense. If you can’t name half of their lineup, then you’re old or deranged.

        Whether their lineup *[

          • achaycock
          • 12 years ago

          That’s a bit of a close-minded viewpoint. There are a lot of cards in nvidia’s line up and it is not all that clear which is the best card to buy. Besides, I didn’t say he couldn’t name them, just that he found them confusing enough to be off-putting

          • Joshvar
          • 12 years ago

          Yes, blame the customer. I have forgotten more than you know, whippersnapper, so don’t try pulling that on me.

          While that was hyperbole, I don’t think most people who visit this site could hit 50%, myself included, while also stratifying them properly, either by price or performance.

          Here are the GPUs available at Newegg (and this is just Nvidia…AMD has quite a few too):

          GeForce2 MX400

          GeForce MX4000

          GeForce FX 5200
          GeForce FX 5500

          GeForce 6200
          GeForce 6200LE
          GeForce 6200LE TC
          GeForce 6800GS
          GeForce 6800XT

          GeForce 7100GS
          GeForce 7200GS
          GeForce 7300GS
          GeForce 7300GT
          GeForce 7300LE
          GeForce 7600GS
          GeForce 7600GT
          GeForce 7800GT
          GeForce 7800GTX
          GeForce 7950GT

          GeForce 8400GS
          GeForce 8500GT
          GeForce 8600GT
          GeForce 8600GTS
          GeForce 8800GS
          GeForce 8800GTX
          GeForce 8800GT
          GeForce 8800GTS
          GeForce 8800Ultra

          GeForce 9600GT
          GeForce 9800 GTX
          GeForce 9800 GX2

          Have fun, test tomorrow. I guess an 8800GS should be faster than an 8600GTS, but is it? How about an 8400GS against a 7600GS? How about my existing card against these newer ones? This really tells the tale; there have been so many cards over the last 2 years that my 7800GT is long in the tooth, but I can’t discern where it fits in. I’d guess 8600GTS levels, but it’s probably between that and one of the 10 different 8800 cards that have come out. And, since reviews have so many damn cards in them, the 7800GT fell off the charts way ahead of when it was truly obsolete. So many are utterly forgettable cards, as their faster cousins present MUCH more favorable value propositions. Do you remember the GeForce MX for anything other than suckitude? Now, how about the GeForce 4200? They had differentiation and good stratification going into the GF5 series, and now they’ve muddied it so much that keeping up requires more effort than it’s worth. Enthusiasts might do it, but even still, when was the last time you recommended anything based on a $5-10 price difference?

            • cobalt
            • 12 years ago

            I hate pointing at Tom’s Hardware, but in the last page of their “Best Graphics Cards for the Money” series (they update it periodically, and it’s currently available on their front page), they list virtually every graphics card out there and place them in sorted equivalence classes. Not perfect by any means, but a very useful cheat-sheet.

            • Meadows
            • 12 years ago

            Your card is about the level of an 8600 GTS – it won’t get near any of the 8800 cards. The 8400 is quite inferior to any 7600 though – if you take the entire number, it would signify more, but 8 only stands for the series (feature set), so not all 8s are, err, more than 7s. (Yes, I’m aware of examples like the GeForce 4 MX which never contained the feature set of GeForce 4 cards, but this is a fair case this time.)

            It really only got out of hand with the 8800 cards where nVidia only introduced more new letters instead of more new numbers (or a combination), and when they had realised that they’ve run out, they started biting at *[

    • GTVic
    • 12 years ago

    “Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated last month that he wants Nvidia GPUs in more consumer PCs”

    I’m sure Nvidia is glad they’ve got this guy thinking up these innovative goals.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 12 years ago

    NVidia’s evil marketing geniuses have long profited by confusing the consumer into overpaying for a crappy card with a name that is confusingly similar to a good card. Why should they change this successful strategy of world domination now?

      • provoko
      • 12 years ago

      I was just about to post that. I’m glad AMD came up with the simple naming scheme.

    • kvndoom
    • 12 years ago

    Wow, it’s only May and we already have 2008’s NO SH!T SHERLOCK award winner!

      • Geatian
      • 12 years ago

      People are using the internet!
      Zack de la Rocha is an angry man!
      Sex is… cool?!
      :-O

      • Valhalla926
      • 12 years ago

      They also say grass is green, but I see a blue-ish yellow-ish combination

        • no51
        • 12 years ago

        Mine is red-ish and crystal-ey, sticky too.

      • Meadows
      • 12 years ago

      I *[

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    NVs naming scheme has been missed up ever since the first wave of G80-based cards and their derivatives. I blame the marketers for making the initial G92s 8800’s, they should have been 8900’s at least but they couldn’t do that because there were still too many G80 cards in the channel. Having a card every $30 isn’t bad for choice but it does make things needlessly confusing.

    • herothezero
    • 12 years ago

    Wow…imaging that. Simplifying the product line so you can sell more product more easily.

    • ew
    • 12 years ago

    Maybe it it would help if they stopped giving the same product two different names!

      • ttyRazor
      • 12 years ago

      or worse yet two entirely different products with the same name (8800GTS)

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