GIGABYTE 3D1-68GT: Double fun
We first heard of Gigabyte's 3D1 video cards in December last year. 3D1-68GT continues the glorious tradition of dual-chip solutions. But before proceed directly with the 3D1-68GT, let's bring back into history for a while.
The idea of harnessing two GPUs in one team is not new in itself. More or less successful attempts have been made for quite a long time. The passed away ambitious 3dfx used to produce video cards with 2 and even 4 VPUs onboard. ATI's Rage Fury MAXX also used to offer two VPUs onboard. So what do we see now? As you know, NVIDIA having acquired 3dfx with all of its developments somehow reworked the idea of merging the performance of two VPUs and suggested fitting two separate video cards running in combination into a single system. Such approach gained recognition from its major competitor. Of course, I mean ATI with its CrossFire technology.
As some classic once noted, history progresses in spiral. While creating their first 3D1, engineers at Gigabyte inherited the superficial idea and merged two 6600GT video chips on a single PCB. In the end, they produced a video card of performance superior at some applications over the leaders of that time.
Despite the saying that you must spoil before you spin, the very first try proved successful. Even some limitations specific of the 6600GT chip did not spoil the impression. Albeit the 128-bit memory bus did not allow showing the full at the most demanding modes with the FSAA and AF enabled, that is not so big. What matters is that through the release of 3D1 not only did Gigabyte paved a way to new solutions based on standard VPUs - it also broke new grounds for fantasies like merging two dual-chip video cards in a system thus making 4 GPUs.
The choice of 6600GT as the basis for the first 3D1 was justified. Creation of PCB to host two VPUs on, the interface between them, own video memory for each GPU, complicated power supply system - all these took great efforts.
We only have to conjecture what sort of difficulties engineers at Gigabyte faced while creating 3D1-68GT. Nevertheless, they didn't give themselves an easy time and merged two full-featured GeForce 6800GT on a single PCB with as much as 512 MB of video memory - 256 MB to each video chip and a 256-bit bus per each chip. They enhanced the power supply system, fastened a powerful cooling system and raised the frequencies relative to the standard.
Let's see what has proved of these all.
For viewing convenience, one photo shows both the front and rear views of the box. The box is designed in tender blue tints. On the front side of the package (photo to the right), instead of the traditional fairy-tale heroes or extraterrestrial monsters, there is the inscription "3D1" set off in wreath and ribbon. Sort of a modest hint for superiority. Of course, the wreath is not given for the second place. : The inscription "2005" on the ribbon hints that next year we may see another solution of the 3D1 series. Below are the main features of 3D1-68GT, as well as the results of benchmarks (of course, 3DMark), and photos of the video card itself.
On the reverse side, central part is taken by the photo of 3D1-68GT with the detailed description of all the features and capabilities of the video card. Here are also detailed specifications (to be disclosed in depth in what follows).
Inside the box, we found the following:
- User's Guide
- CD including the video card drivers, DirectX, PowerDVD 5.0, and the proprietary utility for overclocking video cards - V-Tuner2.
- CDs with games: XpandRally and Joint Operations
- Special strap to connect two additional D-SUB connectors
- Two DVI/D-SUB adapters
- Adapter for additional power supply
- Adapter for TV-out S-Video/Composite
They might have put more game CDs, and I wish the games were more modern. The card pretends to offer the top-end performance level and will cost a lot. On the other hand, for Russia that is not a critical issue due to known reasons.
…and of course the video card itself
The photo in this perspective can't express the volume, unfortunately. And no photo can express the weight of the thing. Believe me - 3D1-68GT is spacious enough and weighs quite substantially. First of all, because of the massive cooling system which hides the PCB almost completely from both sides.
||CPU & Memory: