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UPDATE: 55nm GT206 GPU powers both GTX290 and Quadro FX 5800

The honor of being the first product powered by 55nm G200-302 chip (a.k.a. GT206/212) went to Quadro FX 4800/5800, products that launched with a lot of fanfare earlier today.

Besides Quadro FX 4800 and 5800, the new 55nm GPU will also power GeForce GTX 270 and 290. Essentially, we’re talking about the same parts. Quadro FX 4800 is nothing more but GTX270 with double the amount of video memory, while Quadro FX 5800 is equal to GTX290, but with four times the video memory. ATI is not sleeping, as the company is preparing an RV790 part , beefed-up version of already existing RV770 chip.

G200-302 Rev A2 begun manufacturing back in September, and the first parts are now finding their way to mass manufacturing. The chip features a die size of 470mm2, 107mm2 less than the original G200 chip. This just goes to show the vast difference between 65nm and 55nm – if Nvidia had the balls to go with 55nm chip back in May, the prices of GTX260/280 parts could have been way cheaper and offer much more flexibility, but we can’t cry over spilt milk. 55nm part is here now, and it will consume much less power than is the case with the 65nm one.

The 55nm GPU consumes roughly 50% less power than it was the case with 65nm one, and this difference is more than massive. When I did quick power checks, the GTX280 at 650/1500/2200 would eat around 266W, while the default clocked GTX280 (600/1300/2200) was specc’ed at 238W.

Well, the 55nm GPU will eat around 170W at 650/1500/2200, meaning that GTX290 just got 100W of power to play with. If you’re into overclocking, you can now start dreaming about clocking those 240 shaders to 1.7-1.8 GHz range (perhaps even 2.0 if water-cooling setup is powerful enough), and achieve massive performance gains, all happening while you’re consuming less power than a stock clocked GTX280.

As far as the naming convention goes, Nvidia calls their chips NVxx (we’re at NV60 right now) or Gxx/Gxxx internally, and partners get the GT200-XXX name. But at the end of the day, the number that matters is the one on the chip.
GTX 260 and 280 both came with G200-200 and G200-300 chips, while GTX270 and 290 will feature G206-202 and G206-302 chips. Essentially, there is no difference between the two, sans the hardwired part that decides how many shaders a certain chip has. If you’re brave enough, you’ll pop the massive HIS and play around with resistors. Who knows, perhaps you can enable 240 shaders on GTX260/270… or maybe not.
In any case, we can’t wait for these new babies to show up. FX4800, FX5800, GTX270 and 290 are all coming to market very, very soon.
My personal take is that Nvidia will try to steal the limelight of official Core i7 launch on 11/17 and ship the GTX270/290 to reviewers, trying to tell them that they’re still on top. All hopes with ATI lie in the form of upcoming 4890. But still, Nvidia does not offer a compelling $199 experience and this is where ATI will take them to the cleaners.

Of course… unless you see a GTX260-216 at a completely new price point, and GTX270 costing just $50 more, dropping to $199 for Christmas. Crazy scenario, but competition brings the best for us, consumers.

UPDATE: Picture that accompanied the story did not feature GT206 chip, thus I removed it. The rest of the info is pretty valid 🙂