ATI is happily shipping its R580, Radeon X1900 generation cards where the fastest are running at 650 MHz, and it is not running cool. ATI managed to ship some of the X1800 based cards running at 700 MHz out of the box but it could not ship tens of thousands of those.
As G71 is 90 nanometre chip it should not be that much troublesome to get to 650 and even 700 MHz. You can, if you go over 550 MHz - that is some kind of milestone for 90 nanometre marchitecture. It is always all about the yields. When you talk about semiconductors, you e talking about the yields. Some of the G71 chips will run at 800 MHz air cooled and if you cool it with LN2 you will break the 1000 MHz milestone.
But in a realistic world, you need ten if not even twenty thousand high end cards to do the hard launch and in the weeks after launch you have to keep those chips coming. Otherwise you will do the great launch winning the benchmarks, creating a demand for a day or two and the next morning you xwon't have any more cards to ship.
Nvidia did it with Geforce 7800 GTX 512, customers sold the cards in a day or two and since then Nvidia was stuck with back orders for weeks. It has enough Geforce 7800 GTX 512 cards but little bit too late as ATI is shipping volumes of high end toy. Nvidia can not afford to do such a launch as G71 needs to blow away ATIs R580, no mistakes this time.
And one more, a very important thing. G71 at 700+ MHz can and will beat R580, Radeon X1900 even the XTX variation. The other issue is, when will Nvidia manage to ship those cards in reasonable quantities? A middle March launch press launch and early April for the real availability sounds like the best shot to us. Remember Nvidia taped out in first weeks of January not even a month from now and it takes roughly three months from tape out till the production. We can still be wrong but will keep our eyes wide open. µ
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