Christmas has definitely come early this year. First we were wowed by the much-anticipated arrival of quad-core CPUs. Now, just a week later, we have a brand new GPU to become overly excited about. And excited we are. As our first taster of a retail Nvidia G80-based graphics card, XFX's GeForce 8800 GTX wasn't likely to leave us unimpressed, after all.
In fact, the XFX is just a reference design, so we won't dwell too greatly on its specifications. It has Nvidia's entirely unified and threaded architecture with Direct3D 10 and Shader Model 4 support. As the 8800 GTX version of the G80, it boasts 128 scalar ALUs, the unusual multi-speed core running at 575MHz but with 1,350MHz shader units, and 900MHz memory (1,800MHz effectively with dual-pumping). It boasts 24 ROPs rather than the previous Nvidia generation's 16, so can realise more of its shader power in brute pixel throughput. This also allows a couple of extra anti-aliasing modes (8x MSAA and the new CSAA).
For more details on the G80's architecture, we refer you to our in-depth technical evaluation. In a nutshell, the G80 theoretically offers twice the per-clock texturing power of its G71 predecessor.