Nvida launches uncompetitive G210 and GT220

Barely at parity

NVIDIA IS ABOUT to unleash its latest 40nm GPUs on the world, and the best part is these are only 3 quarters late. Welcome the new and utterly forgettable G210 and GT220.

Here is the short story. The parts are shrinks of the older G96 and and G98, tarted up for DirectX 10.1 and adding sound over HDMI on the GT220. For the enthusiast, these cards are a yawner. For the OEMs, they are, well, far too late. Had they come out in late winter or early spring as they were meant to, there might have been a place for them, but now, with the upcoming Cedar and Redwood parts from ATI, they are obsolete before they hit retail.

The cards have been shipping for about two months as OEM only products, a testament to Nvidia’s inability to get the TSMC 40nm process working. If you want the raw specs on the cards, they are available here for the G210, and here for the GT220. The G210 has 16 of the moronically named ‘cuda cores’, and runs at 589MHz core, 1402MHz shader clock, and sports 512MB of DDR2/500 on a 64-bit bus. What once was a programming paradigm is now a marketing term slimy enough to induce a shower after reading. GT220 ups this to 48 cores at 615MHz core, 1335MHz shader clock, and has 1GB of 128-bit wide DDR3/790. Both are DX10.1 parts.

In terms of speed, they underwhelm. Both cards were tested on an older testbed to allow a comparison with some older tests, so prepare not to be astounded by the hardware. Given that the cards are in the $50 range and under, we felt pairing them with an Intel Core i7 975 would give almost useless data.

That said the tests were run for SemiAccurate on a Phenom 8650 plugged into a Gigabyte MA790GP (ATI 780 based) motherboard. 2GB of DDR2/800 was used, as was Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit. We strongly urge that you do not use either Windows Vista or Windows 7 for anything with important data on it due to Microsoft malware, unexplained data theft, and silently overriding update settings.

Back to the good, or at least mediocre stuff, the cards. All scores are rounded up or down to the nearest 25. On 3DMark Vantage run at 1024×786, the G210 scored E4900, with a graphics score of 4700. At 1280×1024, it scored P825 with graphics subscores of 650.

The GT220 scored 2350 and P2775 at 1280×1024, and at 1680×1050 with 2xAA and 8xAF hit 1550 graphics and H1750 overall. Moving up to 1920×1200 with 4xAA and 16xAF, the card managed 1075 graphics and X1100 total. *YAWN*

Moving backwards to 3DMark06, the cards were run at 1280×1024 and 1920×1200 with 4xAA and 8xAF. For the G210, the scores were 2525/925 total, 950/350 for SM2.0, and 875/275 for SM3.0 at 1280/1920 rez. The GT220 raised that to 6650/3113, 2775/1300, and 2575/975 at the same resolutions.

These scores are a bit over what an integrated GPU can do for the G210, and a little over double integrated for the GT220. If you are buying one of these cards, it isn’t for performance, it is because the system you have doesn’t have a port or a feature you need.

The problem? These are Nvidia’s newest and best hope to stem the bleeding until, or if, the ‘Fermi’/GF100 based card variants arrive in about six months, and they barely compete with the existing ATI 55nm chips. Don’t take our word for it, PC Games Hardware shows that an ATI RV710 based HD4350, a $35 retail card, thumps the G210 in the four tests they ran. The GT220 barely beats out the RV730 based HD4650/1GB, a $45 retail part, according to IT168.

This means Nvidia’s new parts are barely competitive with the older generation ATI ones, set for replacement just after Christmas. Those new Evergreen based parts are said to double the shader count from their predecessors, have the same power characteristics as the NV chips, and add features like DX11 that Nvidia can’t match. G210 and GT220 barely bring NV to parity before the ATI Evergreen parts waterfall the Nvidia stack to irrelevance.

To make matters worse, the highly anticipated GT240, basically a shrunken G92 – GT8800/9800GTX/GT250 and many other renamings – is soundly beaten by the ATI HD4850 according to IT168. It takes a 20% overclock for the GT240 to beat the ATI HD4850 on one of three tests. As of this writing, you can get a Sapphire 512MB HD4850 for $85 on Newegg, and the Juniper based replacements will be out this month, again waterfalling the Nvidia stack.

What it comes down to is that the Nvidia G210 and GT220 are too little too late. The cards offer a mild upgrading of features from their G96 and G98 based predecessors, but that is about it. If Nvidia wanted to make Windows 7 certification, they had to upgrade these parts like they did. Buyers will get the bare minimum and no more.

The competitive situation is dire as well. In the few places they win, the Nvidia parts aren’t leaps and bounds ahead of ATI. Next quarter, the replacements for those ATI parts come out, and then Nvidia has no hope on price, features, or performance. Instead of coming out last spring with about a year to sell at almost parity, the G210 and GT220 have three months or less before they are obsolete. These parts are barely worth it for an OEM to qualify or a retailer to stock.S|A

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 Nvida launches uncompetitive G210 and GT220

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.