Despite the fact that GDDR3 was announced by ATI over a year and a half ago, it looks like NVIDIA will be the first graphics company to use the new memory type in shipping products. Granted, GDDR3 doesn't do much for the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra's performance, but the 10% drop in idle system power consumption nicely highlights GDDR3's lower operating voltage.
Still, the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra is really only scratching the surface of GDDR3's potential. I'd expect next generation graphics products from both ATI and NVIDIA to use faster GDDR3 chips than the 500MHz Samsungs we've seen today. Samsung also offers GDDR3 chips rated to 600, 700, and 800MHz, all of which require only 1.9V. On a 256-bit memory bus, 800MHz GDDR3 chips could offer up to 51.2GB/sec of memory bandwidth?nearly 70% more than NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and more than double that of ATI's Radeon 9800 XT.
So, while the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra leaves much of GDDR3's potential untapped, the card gives us a glimpse at what we can expect from new products that may be just around the corner: faster memory with lower power consumption. I like sound of that.
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