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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 400 Series - What you need to know

By: Shawn Baker | NVIDIA GeForce GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Mar 26, 2010 11:00 pm
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

The 512 CUDA Core Story


This was a big story when it broke; the decision that NVIDIA had opted to use 480 CUDA cores on the GTX 480 instead of 512. First, let's just talk about the model name. I asked NVIDIA if the model name had anything to do with the amount of CUDA cores it had (GTX 480 = 480 CUDA Cores) and they came back and said "no" in a word.


In a longer response, they said:


No, the name of the GeForce GTX 480 was 480, just for the sake of consistency of our nomenclature. Remember, the first product using our last generation architecture was the GeForce GTX 280. So it really didn't have anything to do with the number of available CUDA cores in the product.


The thing is, word of it being called the GTX 300 series was only ever just a rumor and unless they were going to call the GTX 470 the GTX 448, it would be silly to name one model after its CUDA core and not the other.




The GTX 480 was called the GTX 480 because it had 480 CUDA Cores? - False


So, the next question was; did NVIDIA drop down from 512 CUDA cores to 412 to increase yield rates? - The answer for that one is ultimately "yes" if you read between the lines.


For the GTX 480, we decided to productize 480 cores in order to support the broadest availability at the time of initial launch. Based on these specs, we expect good availability to meet pent up demand.


No, they're not saying that the card was decreased from 512; instead they're saying that 480 was the number they decided on. When asked about the 512 CUDA Cores being shown in the whitepaper and in slides, NVIDIA responded by saying "That's what FERMI is capable of."


To be honest, it's a bit of a pain in the ass answer. If it's capable of that, then why aren't we using it? - It's clear they need to readjust the CUDA cores to bring numbers up to offer what they are considering good availability.


The GTX 480 was trimmed to 480 CUDA Cores from 512 to increase yield rates aka supply? - Yes and No. Officially there was no final specification, NVIDIA say, so moving from 512 to 480 didn't really happen. Instead they just opted to have 480 in the final specification to make sure supply was available.


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