Nvidia renames 2xx parts to 3xx

Worked well last time, consumers are sheep

NVIDIA IS DOING what it knows how to do best once again – not making chips, but renaming old parts into the new ‘GT300’ series. Yes, it is funny, but there is a good reason for the renaming.

As you might be aware, Nvidia is the master of screwing consumers by renaming old cards to sound like they are new. The problem is that there were basically no derivatives for the G200 chip, the half and quarter variants simply never materialized on the desktop. For the past year, Nvidia has not been able to get a chip out the door to save its life.

The GT212/214/216/218 going to GT214/216/218 then on to GT215/216/218 saga of 2009 is emblematic of its failures, and the lack of consumer versions just makes things sadder. Because of these failures, the G92, also known as the 8800GT/9800GT, was renamed the GT250. It was a good chip – so good in fact that it spanned three generations of marketing.

Couple that with the fact that Nvidia could not make the 21x parts to save its bottom line, and it had to try and snow consumers. So it did. Then it had to keep reviewers who were not afraid of it in the dark, so it did. That sure went over well. Now that every reviewer had their eyes opened, what does Nvidia do? Clean up its act? Behave like a responsible corporate citizen? Heck no, our moles tell us that merely suggesting such things is a firing offense in Santa Clara. Once more, instead of making new chips, it is renaming parts again.

Yes, the parts in the G3xx series that do not end in 00 are missing in action, so Nvidia is going to make some up. But how do you do that and snow an already clued-in set of reviewers? Easy enough, you… wait for it, make the cards slower! Yes, slower. Don’t ask me how the big thinkers in Nvidia product planning remember to breathe. If they use the same mental pathways for basic bodily functions as they do to ‘make’ ‘new’ parts, they would have died long ago.

Back to the ‘technical’ side of the ‘new’ chips. If you take an old 2xx series part that uses GDDR5 and hamstring it by using only GDDR3, you are now eligible to call it a 3-series part! Wow, genius! Please don’t email me and ask why it makes sense, there is no sense at all in this.

Pair this with the fact that Nvidia partners are reporting shortages of 2xx chips, and you have all the makings for hilarity. No parts, but if you make them slower, you can call them new, and pretend they are faster, even if you can’t ship them to your customers. Words don’t often fail me, but this time they do.

What does this mean? Two things. First, Nvidia’s product planners utterly botched their planning. Orders for 2xx wafers were not put in, or more likely they thought that yields would magically improve, but now there are not enough parts to go around. Hint to the engineers at Nvidia – ATI did its homework, and can actually make parts with decent yields. Nvidia ‘opened a can of whoop-ass’, and now it can’t seem to make a broken wafer when given a wafer, a hammer, and an instructional video.

More importantly, this says that the follow up parts to the GT300 are not imminent. Very not imminent. If they are feasible at all now.

Something is badly wrong at Nvidia central. It simply can’t make parts that work. While there are signs of that the repeated cluetrain impacts are sinking in, there are still huge gaps remaining. Q4 2009 is lost to Nvidia, Q1 2010 seems to be as well, and there is little hope on the horizon. Funny as it is to watch Nvidia’s bluster turn to ashes, if it doesn’t pick up its game very soon, the company may implode.S|A

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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 available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate