Is this Nvidia's next top-of-the-line graphics card?

We've been reporting on rumors about Nvidia's next-gen GT200 graphics processor for a few weeks now, and the latest word is that it'll show up in GeForce 9900 GTS and GTX cards in July. No pictures of those cards have leaked so far, but over this past weekend, folks at the XtremeSystems forums have exchanged mechanical renderings of purported GT200-based products.

A newcomer to the forum posted the first shots on Friday, and following an incredulous response from other members, he linked to a 35MB STEP file containing the actual geometry data. A couple of forum regulars later used the file to produce some more detailed renderings, which certainly look authentic—either that, or the original file comes from a hoaxer with both extensive knowledge of CAD software and far too much time on his hands.

The cards in the renderings look surprisingly similar to G80-based GeForce 8800 GTS, GTX, and Ultra graphics cards. We can spot the same over-sized GPU heat spreader (likely concealing an equally gigantic GPU die), as well as an external chip (perhaps used for I/O, like on G80 cards), and a couple of PCI Express power connectors. Things get a little weird when we look at the memory chips, though: there are eight of those on the front face of the card and another eight on the back, arranged in 3:3:2 patterns around the GPU. Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra cards, by contrast, have 12 chips surrounding the GPU.

This unusual memory arrangement corroborates the latest GT200-related rumors, which claim the top-of-the-line GT200 card will feature a 512-bit memory interface. The presence of an external I/O chip also suggests Nvidia might have wanted to save up as much die area as possible for the actual GPU, unless the chip has another function altogether.

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