NVIDIA outguns itself, ATI with gamers' dream GPU -- GeForce 8800 Ultra

Not content with its already tight grip on the high-end graphics card market, NVIDIA has released the 8800 Ultra GPU, a graphics processing unit that offers even faster performance than the all-conquering GeForce 8800 GTX.

The GeForce 8800 Ultra is pitched at enthusiast PC-users with aspirations of building the fastest possible gaming platform. NVIDIA's estimated 10-15 percent performance boost over the 8800 GTX GPU takes its market-first DirectX 10 graphics card another step forward and is sure to ruffle the feathers of rival ATI, which has yet to release its competing GPU, codenamed R600.

With a GPU speed of 612MHz the Ultra is 37MHz faster than the 8800 GTX and its shader clock, at 1500MHz, is 150MHz faster.

The Ultra also retains a 384-bit memory interface for its 768MB of GDDR3 memory, but the increased memory clock of 1080MHz (2.16GHz) allows it to move up to 103.7GB of data per second to and from its memory chips, in comparison to the 8800 GTX, which can move 86.4GB per second.

The 8800 Ultra still uses the same number of stream processors as the 8800 GTX (read our review of the 8800 GTX to find out what these are), but the extra speed allows it to render 2.4 billion more pixels each second over the 8800 GTX.

Cards based on the 8800 Ultra will cost around 15 percent more than an 8800 GTX. Expect a retail price close to $1299 for the Ultra.

ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte are some of the companies that will bring cards to market based on the Ultra, sometime during this month.

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