Earlier today, NVIDIA announced their latest dedicated graphics card, the new GeForce 8800 series, as well as their latest integrated motherboard solution, the nForce 680 series. I got to sit in the audience, comprised of major media and community members as well as several hundred hardcore gamers who’d been competing in a LAN tournament for the past 24 hours, and witness the unveil of one of the most revolutionary and incredible computer gaming products to hit the market in the past several years.
The press conference kicked off with the introduction of Harry, the star of the show, which was an ordinary, ho-hum run of the mill low-end PC – a sub-2GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, low-end GPU, and 80GB of hard drive space. Throughout the show, they added new components to Harry to update him and get him ready for the next generation -- essentially a new motherboard and a new GPU, but the theme of giving Harry an arsenal of new technology to make him competitive in the new world order was scattered throughout the entire presentation.
The first unveil was the nForce 680 motherboard, both in a 680i (for Intel) and 680a (for AMD) configuration. When unveiling the features of this new motherboard, the gamers in the crowd went wild. Two ports of gigabit Ethernet. Support for twelve SATA drives on the motherboard for eight possible terabyte of storage space. And the ability to put four, yes four high-end NVIDIA GPUs into the system. And of course support for the quad-core processors from AMD and Intel. Essentially, for the hardcore gamers with no limit to their budget, these motherboards support the fastest, most performance-enhanced capabilities around.
Then they unveiled the GeForce 8800 series (the GTX and the GTS models, aka the one for $599 and the one for $449, respectively). Some of the key stats: on average more than twice the performance of a GeForce 7900 GTX in current DirectX 9 games; support for SLI; a single 8800 broke the world 3DMark barrier, which was originally set by two 7900s in SLI. Impressive stuff, to say the least.
NVIDIA then showed demos of the technology working, all of which were gorgeous, and really showed off the power of the GPUs. The most notable was a computer model of Adrianne Curry, aka the woman who married Christopher Knight, aka Peter Brady from the Brady Bunch, and the stars of the reality TV show My Fair Brady. Adrianne and Christopher made a guest appearance on stage, where they proceeded to laud the capabilities of the video card, and Christopher, referring to Adrienne, told the audience to “have fun with her” (sorry guys, he was referring to the computer generated model).
Testimonials from developers, publishers, and our own Peter Moore and Jim Allchin (Co-President of Platform and Services Division of Microsoft – the Windows Big-Wig) made video appearances giving kudos and support to NVIDIA.
Then the cool stuff showed up – Todd Hollenshead from id Software showed off a new map in Quake Wars: Enemy Territory. Massive demoed the most graphically intensive RTS I’ve ever seen (complete with the most realistic nuclear blast ever witnessed in a video game) called World in Conflict, and Cevat Yerli demoed the latest version of Crysis from Crytek, and the audience was blown away.
The event closed off with a new, updated, and refurbished Harry coming out, complete with new NVIDIA case. One of the elements of the LAN party that had been going on for the previous 24 hours was a “my PC sucks” campaign, where users showcased their crappiest gaming PCs. Two lucky guys, who had the most pathetic PCs at the show, walked away with Harry – brand new PCs with nForce 680 motherboards and TWO GeForce 8800 GTXs on board.
Personally, I can’t wait to get hold of one (or two) of these new video cards and see what it can do. And when DirectX 10 games start shipping for Windows Vista, well, watch out – it’ll be a whole new ball game when it comes to video games.
Below are some pictures, and you can see some small demos that they showed on-stage at www.nvidia.com. If /when they release some movies of the game demos we saw at the event, I’ll link to them. In the meantime, plenty of sites like ExtremeTech and GameSpot have already posted reviews of these incredible boards. Check ‘em out!