Nvidia May Rebrand GT 200 Parts to 300

Mr. Demerjian, perhaps Nvidia's harshest critic, reports that Nvidia is going to continue their notorious policy of rebranding GPUs between generations, yet again.

While the GT300 products are on schedule for a Q4 '09 launch and previews in September, the announced derivatives are now to be seen. On the other hand, if all goes according to plan, ATI will have an generation generation of products – from entry level to dual-GPU monster – publicly available before Nvidia's GT300 hits stores.

The GT300 die is rumored to have a massive die size in excess of 500 mm2, much like the GT200. And like the GT200, once again, the derivatives are missing. It is worth noting that the GT200 derivatives were announced almost a year late – and are still awaiting widespread availability.

Take G80, for instance, it was a spectacular GPU back in 2006, when it took the graphics world by storm. Since then, it was shrunk from 90nm to 65nm in fall 2007 for another star performer – the G92 core. Branding confusions ensued, where the G80 based 8800 GTS ended up slower than both G92 products – 8800 GT and 8800 GTS (again, only differentiated by the memory sizes). A "next-generation" G92-based 9800 GTX was introduced, which ended up not much faster than the 8800 GTX. Then came the ATI's HD 4000 series – and the G92 was shrunk, once again, to 55nm G92b in summer 2008 – this time branded as 9800 GTX +, with clock speeds increased and prices cut to compete with ATI's mainstream HD 4850. By this time, the all-powerful flagship of 2006 was just a mainstream product. Fast forward to 2009, and Nvidia does it again – putting out a thermally improved 9800 GTX + as GTS 250. By the middle of 2009, thanks to the HD 4770 launch and further price cuts of HD 4850 and HD 4870, the once invincible $ 800 product (8800 Ultra) was selling in the mid-range for $ 130, minusingly losing out on the price-performance battle. Unfortunately, many consumers assumed GTS 250 was a "next-generation" product, and sales remained strong. This is why Nvidia attracted harsh criticism from several enthusiasts.

As we head to DX11, ATI have an entire bunch of Evergreen cards releasing – and Nvidia have just the high-end performance parts. Their latest entry level 40nm parts may put up a fight, but they would be competitive against ATI's improved DX11 entry level products. As reported by Jon Peddie Research, the GPU market has shifted more towards mainstream / entry-level products, while Nvidia has only the high-end GT300 launching any time soon. This creates a big void in the market for Nvidia, much like with GT200. What Charlie Demerjian is suggesting is that Nvidia will once again shrink / rebrand their favorite cores, like the G92b or the GT200, to the GT 300 generation, to fill up the void.

What is worrying is, where will the G92b performance stand when ATI's Evergreen cards are rumored to almost double performance over the previous generation? Let's hope Nvidia have unpretented performance in store from their GT300 cards, come the previews in September, and they can rush in its derivatives no later than Q1 '10, and avoid needless rebrands. Let's also hope that they have learned from their mistakes and are not underestimating ATI's Evergreen parts. They simply can not afford to compete with dies half of their size, which is what happened in the HD 4800 vs. GTX 200 battle.

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