Sneak Peek:
 
NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra with GDDR3 RAM

By, Marco Chiappetta
March 24, 2004

Monday, March 22, 2004:
Good afternoon folks! An interesting package just landed in the lab, that we thought you'd like to take a look at. At first glance, the card below looks like an ordinary GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, but upon closer inspection one major difference is revealed...


NVIDIA GEFORCE FX 5700 ULTRA WITH GDD3 MEMORY

Unlike the GeForce FX 5700 Ultras available at retail, this particular card is equipped with Samsung GDDR3 memory. Most of you have probably heard that next generation parts from NVIDIA will use GDDR3 memory, and while we can't say anything for certain at the moment, this little number sure does lend some credence to that information. The actual part number on the memory chips is Samsung K4J55323QF-GC20 (more information available here). We'll be installing this card into our test-bed shortly and will let you know what we find. We're told this particular card will perform just like any other 5700 Ultra, but we're more interested in the memory's overclocking potential than anything else. Take a look at the PDF linked above, and you'll see why - Samsung is rating some of these parts for 800MHz (1600MHz DDR) operation.
 

Overclocking: NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra with GDDR3 RAM
Unreal Tournament 2003 & Comanche 4 - Before and After

Update - Wednesday, March 24, 2004:
We installed the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra with GDDR3 memory into our Athlon 64 FX-53 test system to take a few reference scores and to see how well the card, or more importantly its memory, would overclock.  In four previous reviews of retail-ready GeForce FX 5700 Ultras, the memory on the cards overclocked to the 1.03GHz - 1.06GHz range.  The GDDR3 memory, however, overclocked a bit higher.  We were able to take the GDDR3 memory on our reference 5700 Ultra all the way up to a maximum of 1.11GHz.  Using the Auto-Detect feature built into NVIDIA's v56.56 Forceware drivers, the card overclocked to 543MHz core / 1.09GHz memory.  When we did the tweaking manually, however, the card peaked at 549MHz / 1.11GHz.

We benchmarked the card using Comanche 4 and Unreal Tournament 2003 at a resolution of 1600x1200, with 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled, to demonstrate the benefits of overclocking.  As you can see, overclocking the card had a significant impact on its performance.  In Comanche 4, scores increased a total 18.7% with the card overclocked, jumping from 25.32 frames per second to a little over 30 FPS.  We saw a similar increase in performance with in Unreal Tournament 2003, where frame rates jumped from 42.24 FPS to 49.12 FPS - an increase of 16.3%.


The Samsung GDDR3 memory's overclocking potential wasn't the only data point we were interested in (and judging by your feedback over the last two days, neither were you!).  We also set out to check the memory's temperature during normal use and while overclocked.  Unfortunately, because we lack the necessary equipment to get a truly accurate temperature reading from the surface of the memory chips themselves, we had to settle for mounting a thermal probe to the back of the PCB, directly behind the RAM.

Ambient Memory
Stock 23.4C 27.9C
Overclocked 22.8C 34.4C

At stock clock speeds, the thermal probe read a temperature that was only 4.5C above ambient.  At this temperature the rear of the PCB directly behind the RAM was just barely warm to the touch.  As expected, when we overclocked the card, the temperature readings went way up.  According to our decidedly unscientific setup, the temperature peaked at 34.4C, which is a big jump considering we're measuring temperatures on the underside of the PCB, the actual temperature of the chips would be somewhat higher.  However, at 34.4C we wouldn't say the GDDR3 memory was running terribly hot.  The lower power requirements of Samsung's GDDR3 memory definitely help keep temperatures in check.

We've only been experimenting with this card for a few days, and can't draw too many conclusions because this is after all a reference card that will not be sold at retail.  We consider the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra with GDR3 memory more of a "proof of concept" than anything else.  What we can say is that Samsung's new GDDR3 memory is here, and it is already capable of some impressive speeds.  Samsung is claiming yields of up to 800MHz (1.6GHz DDR) with this RAM, and rumor has it some of these super-fast RAM chips will be making an appearance on next-generation video cards.  If this turns out to be the case, we'll let you know as soon as possible.

 

Get Into HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum!
Tweaked, Overclocked & Ready to Rock!