If you were thinking Nvidia had no answer to the AMD HD 4850 and was only launching the 260 GTX and 280 GTX, you might want to think again. Nvidia dropped into our offices today to give us a sneak peek at the new 55nm G92 part it has been working on - the 9800 GTX+ (plus). Older 9800 GTX, 8800 GTS 512 and 8800 GT parts were made using a 65nm G92 core, which was evolved from the original G80 part that launched in November 2006 - but this card doesn't have that weakness.
Again this core architecture goes from strength to strength and using TSMC's 55nm process - the same one AMD uses for the HD 3000 series graphics cards (and 700 series chipsets), Nvidia has made an even cooler GPU.
Well, it would be cooler, but the 9800 GTX+ is clocked even higher than the old GTX with a core speed of 738MHz, up from 675MHz - a 9.3 percent increase. Shader clocks have also been increased from 1,688MHz to 1,836MHz (an increase of 8.8 percent), and GDDR3 memory remains around the 1.0-1.2GHz (2.0-2.4GHz effective) speed.
The memory chips have changed from Samsung on the 9800 GTX to Hynix H5RS5223CFR-N2C in our 9800 GTX+ sample which is rated for 1.2GHz (2.4GHz)
It's $229 price will place the 9800 GTX+ directly between the "more expensive" (we'll see) HD 4870 (whenever that arrives - it completely depends on GDDR5 availability) and the HD 4850 at $199, although we expect AMD to drop the price of the HD 4850 in response to this.
The current 65nm 9800 GTX will also drop in price below the new 9800 GTX+ to $199, and so we expect the rest of the lower card SKUs like the 8800 GTS 512, 8800 GT and G94 based 9600 GT to also drop in price too! However, Nvidia wouldn't confirm this with us yet. Since the 8800 GTS 512, 8800 GT have already reached end-of-life, and even the 9800 GTX is reported to have followed recently this doesn't seem too far fetched as people already try to clear stock, just a short couple of months after it was launched.
We also asked if the 9600 GT will be ported to 55nm but Nvidia said it "hasn't decided yet"
The one problem we see is that that all you who've recently bought 9800 GTX or 9800 GX2s will be mightily annoyed at the fact this new card arrives without warning at a better performance but with a very, very attractive price indeed.
Are you one of the customers miffed at the sudden appearance of the 9800GTX+, or are you glad there are more options on the market? Let us know in the forums
The Leadtek 9800GTX versus the new 9800GTX+ - yes, they are identical apart from the sticker
Can you tell which is which (actually we had to look hard!!) - the new Plus model is on the left. The 4+2 phase power design is identical on both.
On the back the new 9800GTX+ core components look slightly smaller and the new 55nm G92 is 17mm square versus 65nm G92 which is 18mm square! Whoooo!