Designed as a revolutionary graphics card that was set to redefine gaming and take full advantage of the latest technology, the GeForce 8800 GTX was Nvidia’s most powerful and most expensive graphics card of 2006. Retailing for £500-£600 ($500-$600, yes, America received the same treatment), this eye-watering price tag of a beast wasn’t without justification. As Nvidia’s first GPU to feature Unified Shaders, games which were developed for DirectX9 and DirectX10 would now start to turn in noticeable improvements, resulting in greater use of processing power as well as overall efficiency of how the GPU processes instructions.
Before the rise of Unified Shaders – also known as Cuda Cores for Nvidia, and Stream Processors for AMD, GPU cores functioned in a completely different and complicated manner, requiring Vertex Shaders and Pixel Shaders to work independently of one another fighting over resources and processing power over who renders which part of a scene (Imagine a pair of newly weds constantly bickering). Unified Shaders solved this problem – with neither Core designed or tweaked to function specifically as a Pixel or Vertex . This allowed for all Shader Cores to handle both types of instructions so that simultaneous processing could take place, improving time, speed, efficiency and GPU processing power. Originally bought to light by GPU manufacture ATI – now known as AMD, the first GPU to demonstrate this Unified Shader design was the ATI Xenos – implemented in the Xbox 360 by Microsoft.
Bringing console gaming performance to that of a Mid-Range to High-End gaming PC, the Xbox 360 seduced the hearts and minds of many PC gamers, encouraging them to ditch the troublesome woes of Windows XP and Vista as well as Games for Windows Live, which served as Microsoft’s disastrous attempt in building a PC gaming platform (Steam launched a year later, praise Lord Gaben & count your frames). Packing substantially more performance than the majority of gaming PCs at that current time, there was no GPU available on the market that was at all price friendly in order to be competitive with what Microsoft had to offer with the Xbox 360. While the fact remains that PC hardware can be upgraded at any time, in order to gain additional performance for greater gaming experiences, the Xbox 360 was built to last. Efficient within its GPU resources and performances, armed with a Tri-Core Hyper-threaded processor with insanely fast clock speeds – in terms of raw-processing power the machine proved unstoppable…for about a year.
Developed by Crytek and designed to punish the most powerful of gaming PCs, 2007 saw the release of the notoriously unoptimized and visually stunning Crysis. Photo-realistic and extremely demanding, the ATI Xenos was no match for this star-stunner of a shooter, nor that of the Nvidia RSX GPU powering Sony’s PlayStation 3. Because of such reasons neither console received the game during its release – waiting until 2011 only receive a watered-down version built from the ground-up as a shell of its former self. Ahead of its time in every visual aspect, Crysis was clearly developed with future GPUs in mind. Primarily designed for gaming at resolutions from 1024×768 up to 1920x1080p, the GeForce 8800GTX turned in variable results of 40-60 frames-per-second at 1280x720p when being played at Medium quality settings.
Despite looking visually incredible and ahead of every other game that released within its time period – even at Medium settings, Nvidia’s Unified Shader of a monster was one of the only few graphics cards available at that time which could actually run Crysis at “Close to playable” frame rates. Because of this incredible level of performance as well as the introduction of Unified Shaders for PC graphics cards, the GeForce 8800 GTX received its catchy nickname in the years that followed – The Grandfather of Modern Day Video Cards. This closely followed the popular slogan “Can it run Crysis?”
Check out the promotional video by Nvidia. All the cheese.
The GeForce 8800 GTX specifications are as follows:
Shader Processors – 128
Core Clock – 575MHz
Shader Clock – 1350MHz
VRAM – 768MB
Memory Type – GDDR3
Memory Clock – 900MHz
Memory Bus – 384-bit
Memory Bandwidth – 86.4 GB/s
TFLOPs – 0.3456
Max PSU Draw – 176W
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