We know Team Green are ready to launch their dual-GPU Kepler card, the GEFORCE GTX 690, but where are Team Red and their Radeon HD 7990? If current rumblings are to be believed, we should expect AMD to unveil the Radeon HD 7990 at Computex 2012 in Taipei.
This is only 6 weeks away, which means if NVIDIA drop the GTX 690 ball in between now and then, NVIDIA will have four weeks of people talking about their product, building hype and what not. But, it gives AMD four weeks to re-tweak their GPU and have it ready to open up a can of red whoop ass on NVIDIA, hopefully.
The HD 7990 is expected to sport two full HD 7970 GPUs onto a single PCB. It should also have 6GB of GDDR5 baked into it, as well as 4096 GCN cores, and the ability to run 6-screen Eyefinity setups right out of the box. We will be at Computex in force this year, and will have as much news as we can of this new Red Beast. Hopefully it'll punch all other GPUs in the nuts, again.
I love it when companies throw jabs back and forth in marketing. The latest example of this is NVIDIA claiming that "GeForce puts the Ultra in Ultrabook." While I do tend to agree with NVIDIA that Ultrabooks need some sort of discrete graphics option, I'm not sure that I would be calling out Intel's Ivy Bridge quite yet. They did, after all, do a lot of work on the graphics processor.
But, then again, when has a big company taken my advice before? Well, I guess they would have to ask for it first. But I digress, NVIDIA is right that Intel's graphics are still pretty poor in comparison to NVIDIA's or AMD's offerings. The HD4000 graphics of Ivy Bridge can only handle around 43% of current games whereas a lowly GT640M can handle 100%.
It seems as though Intel is taking this in stride. After all, they do acknowledge that enthusiasts and gamers will still want a discrete GPU. It's good that they will let NVIDIA make fun of their new Ultrabook spec. Maybe, if enough people agree, they will change the spec to include a small descrete GPU.
Never settle. That's AMD's motto for their new Radeon HD 7900M series of GPUs for notebooks. In terms of specs, the Radeon HD 7970M nearly meets what the desktop Radeon HD 7870 GPU, except for slightly lower GPU core clock speeds.
The HD 7970M sports 1280 Graphics CoreNext stream processors, 80 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and a 256-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface which features 2GB of memory. Core clocks are at 850MHz, with 1200MHz (4.8GHz effective) GDDR5 memory clocks which push out 153.6GB/sec memory bandwidth.
The Radeon HD 7970M also features something called AMD Enduro Technology which "seamlessly powers down" the GPU when it's not required, to below even 1W. The HD 7970M should be seen baked into notebooks over the coming days.
There are some rumors floating around that Nvidia could be announcing the newest member of the Kepler architecture at GeForce Lan in Shanghai. With the arrival of crowbars to reviewers and a countdown to an announcement by Nvidia at that same LAN seems to lend credibility to this rumor, however, I wouldn't hold my breathe. We haven't had enough leaks quite yet.
Well, the first of many leaks can be seen above. This is the first picture of the yet unannounced GTX690. The GTX690 should either be a dual GK104 or possibly the GK110 chip that could feature 7 billion transistors. I would prefer it being the single, 7 billion transistor chip as dual chip cards seem to be plagued by more problems.
In the picture, you can see that the card is massive. It features a single PCB so since the fan is situated in the center, it follows that the chips, if a dual GPU card, are situated on either end of the PCB. Due to the angle of the picture, it's hard to say much more about the chip. Obviously it can be expected that it will be one beast of a card after what Kepler was able to do.
Our latest poll had almost 4,500 people who answered, What do you want more? (GTX 680 or Radeon HD 7970)
Let's just say straight out of the gate you people are just a tad bit wacky for wanting a bowl of really good ice cream over an AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card. Take that HD 7970 and exchange it for like a truck load of ice cream, no? Each to their own, hehe.
Anyways, it's certainly clear that the mighty NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 is by far much popular than the AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card taking 51% of the votes.
Something I've covered in my various editorials, that mobile SoC (system-on-a-chip) graphics performance will pass console level performance soon, and NVIDIA agrees with me. NVIDIA predicts mobile SoC graphics performance will surpass the Xbox 360 graphical capabilities by 2014. More so, mobile GPUs are expected to equal the graphics processing power of the Xbox 360 by next year.
NVIDIA provided a slide, which in usual fashion doesn't look like it makes a hell of a lot of sense, to Anandtech, highlighting how far graphics performance has come since 2001, and where they expect it to go by 2014. The solid lines in the chart are estimated performance, while the dotted lines represent trends.
The console line starts in 2001 with the release of the NVIDIA-powered Xbox, and continues with the ATI-powered Xbox 360 released in 2005. You can see it flatline as its released, as the hardware doesn't change. Mobile GPU is shown from 2007 with the release of the first iPhone and moves through to Tegra 2 and existing Tegra 3 parts. The solid green line are presumably NVIDIA GPUs throughout the years.
A new posting by Nvidia for one of its sessions at the upcoming GTC has some very interesting pieces of information in it. Mainly the fact that they are promoting "div[ing] into the features of the compute architecture for 'Kepler' - NVIDIA's new 7-billion transistor GPU." Yeah, 7 BILLION, which is just under double the GK104 chip that powers the GTX680.
Oh please let this be reality! As long as that isn't a typo, and yields are good, then it's very possible that this could power the rumored GTX690 instead of two GK104 chips. And, with the date of the conference, it's highly likely that we could see this chip next month. What price will it debut at? I'll put a bet at $1000.
S0642 - Inside Kepler
Stephen Jones (NVIDIA) , Lars Nyland (NVIDIA)
In this talk, individuals from the GPU architecture and CUDA software groups will dive into the features of the compute architecture for "Kepler" - NVIDIA's new 7-billion transistor GPU. From the reorganized processing cores with new instructions and processing capabilities, to an improved memory system with faster atomic processing and low-overhead ECC, we will explore how the Kepler GPU achieves world leading performance and efficiency, and how it enables wholly new types of parallel problems to be solved.
Topic Areas: Parallel Programming Languages & Compilers
Day: Wednesday, 05/16
Time: 2:00 pm - 3:20 pm
Location: Hall 1
AMD drops pricing on their HD 7000 series, also offers Three for Free for HD 79xx cards - three free games!
Team Green stamped down their whoop ass foot a few weeks ago when they launched their GEFORCE GTX 680, and now AMD are returning the favor by not only dropping prices on the HD 7000 series cards, but offering three free games for any purchase of the HD 79xx cards.
The name of this promotion is called "Three for Free", because, well, that's what it is. If you purchase a HD 7950 or 7970, you'll receive Dirt Showdown (when it drops in May), Nexuiz (again, in May) as well as Deus Ex: Human Revolution (as well as the Missing Link DLC pack), which hits in May too. If this is not enough, the offer lasts up until April 30th, and you have up until May 31st to download the respective keys to the games listed above.
On top of this, there are price drops on the 7000 series, with the HD 7970 dropping from $549 to $479, the HD 7950 drops from $449 to $399. On the mid-to-low-end range, we see the HD 7770 dropping $20 to $139. You have two weeks to act on this, so if you want to grab some Team Red hardware, some free games, and a new bunch of pricing, hit it up as soon as possible!
Palit have already launched their GEFORCE GTX 680 JetStream, but did you really think they'd go back to their man cave and continue gaming on their high-end GPUs and not work on anything else? Ha!
Now we have the new JetStream which sports 4GB of RAM. The new GTX 680 JetStream 4GB joins the 4GB ranks being made up by Gainward and their Phantom 4GB as well as Galaxy's GTX 680 4GB. This new extra RAM definitely comes in handy for those insane resolution and anti-aliasing that you can use, as well as the triple-monitor Surround Vision setups.
The new GEFORCE GTX 680 JetStream standard model with 2GB comes with core speeds of 1150MHz and 6.30GHz on the memory. The 4GB variant sticks to the NVIDIA reference clocks of 1056MHz and 6.00GHz for the core and memory, respectively. It will still use the 6-pin plus 8-pin PCIe connectors. The card itself looks quite sexy with three fans, too.
An NVIDIA engineer is pushing for the industry to move toward 450mm wafers as soon as possible, as GPUs are getting more and more complex to make, it's just going to become a requirement soon enough.
By the end of this decade, we're going to require many more technologies to keep the industry headed toward a trillion transistor device, according to Sameer Halepete, vice president of VLSI engineering at NVIDIA. He said this in a keynote at a Mentor Graphics user conference. He added:
The challenges are similar to what they were before, and though their nature has changed, I'm very confident we will overcome them.
Halepete also mentions that the industry needs to move toward 450mm wafers in order to deal with the number of masks and process steps required to make chips. The larger 450mm wafers would spread the costs out among more chips and reduce the processing time per chip.
NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 was a powerhouse of a card, it pushed the company away from the mess that was the GTX 480 with its various power, heat and noise-related issues, and showed the world that yes, the top dog could still be, top dog.
They reiterated this with the GEFORCE GTX 680 (with the capitilization meant to emphasise the word GEFORCE I'm guessing) and are now enjoying the fruits of their labor. The GTX 680 kicks ass, which means the GTX 580 can slide into retirement, put its slippers on and enjoy a nice, fat green pension for the rest of its life.
The GeForce GTX 580 officially launched all the way back in November 2010, and has enjoyed the crown of fastest single-GPU card until the day AMD launched their HD 7900 series. That didn't last long for AMD as NVIDIA launched the GTX 680, taking back that crown. Enjoy your retirement, GTX 580, my GTX 570's are enjoying their SLI goodness in my PC right now as I type this.
We previously posted regarding how it was unlikely that AMD would be implimenting any price drops on its HD 7000 series GPUs for a couple of reasons. Now KitGuru is reporting that they got a call from an insider and is claiming that AMD is preparing price drops from the 7970 down to the 7770.
The 7970 is AMD's current flagship card. At top overclocks it can compete toe-to-toe with the GTX 680. It currently, however, is priced around $50 more than the competitor. It is set to drop in price by up to $60. The 7950 is set to drop around $55 which will move it into a price zone that is a fair bit less than the GTX680. Nvidia still has nothing for that price spot.
The drops are supposed to continue all the way down the to 7770 which is set to receive a drop of around $15. Obviously, none of this is set in stone and could change over the next couple of weeks before these occur. Prices on the shelves could take a bit of time after the price drops for board partners.
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More leaks from the all too common source of Chinese channels confirms that Nvidia has a dual-GPU GTX 690 in the works. This leak also gives some more detail on the specifications of the yet unannounced card. This card will likely be released shortly after AMD tries to steal the thunder back from Nvidia's GTX 680 with their HD 7990.
The upcoming card will be based on the GK104 silicon and require the juice of two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. The card will utilize a PCI-E 3.0-compliant bridge chip to link the two cards together. Its display output configuration will comprise three DVI and one DisplayPort. Obviously power consumption is a common concern, but for the people laying down cash for a chip like this, it shouldn't be too ridiculous.
Nvidia is supposidly setting the PSU requirement at 650 watt+ which seems oddly low for such a beast (assumed) of a card. It sounds like the chips may be slightly down-clocked in order to reach this TDP and keep temperatures under control. It can be expected that all of the features of the 680 will be in the 690. More as it comes.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's manufacturing capacity has fallen way short of the demand placed upon it by Qualcomm, AMD, and Nvidia. AMD and Nvidia produce their latest generation GPUs on TSMC's 28nm process and have been having trouble getting the chips to ship. Even though the 7970 launched right at the beginning of the year, they've shipped very few due to the shortages.
Nvidia has launched only one GPU based upon its next generation, 28nm Kepler architecture due to the shortage. Nvida has had to delay launching several more models due to this shortage as they would be unable to provide the silicon to go along with the launch. Qualcomm has been forced to move to foundry to produce its ARM chips for phones and tablets.
All of these shortages are expected to lessen by the end of Q3 2012. Yield rates of the 28nm process are slowly improving and will add to reducing this shortage. More as it comes.
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NVIDIA pulled out their rebranding stamp today and stamped two new GPUs to put on the OEM-only table. The two "new" GPUs in question were the GeForce GT 520 which are now known as the GeForce GT 620. Yeah.
This new part is identical to its predecessor, except that the memory has been halved from 2GB to 1GB, or 1GB to 512MB. But, sit down because this is going to blow you away, NVIDIA added that the GT 620 now supports the OpenGL 4.2 API, something its predecessor doesn't have. Wowee.
The GT 620 is still based on the 40nm GF119 silicon, sporting 48 CUDA cores, 8 TMUs, and 4 ROPs. The other GPU is the "new" GeForce 605, which is a re-branded GeForce 510. Again, based on the GF119 silicon, the GeForce 605 core runs at 523MHz, with 1046MHz CUDA cores. This model comes in memory sizes of either 512MB or 1GB.
The wonderful GPU that is Kepler keeps on giving to Nvidia. This chip really was make or break for the company and they came through will an incredible graphics card that has really put the squeeze on Team Red. AMD has not been forced to drop prices as of yet due to the fact that Nvidia hasn't been able to pressure the lower market yet.
But that's all about to change. Nvidia is preparing to recycle the chips that couldn't make it as GTX 680s by turning them into the GTX 670 and 670 Ti. The GK104 that will be in the 670s will have one fewer SMX, bringing the total CUDA cores down to 1344. This should put it in the range of the 7950 and the former 580. The specs are as follows:
- 1344 Cores
- 4 Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC)
- 7 SMX Clusters (192 units per Cluster)
- 112 Texture Units (TU)
- 32 Raster Units (ROP)
- 256-bit Memory Controller
- 2 GB GDDR5 Memory
- ~900 MHz GPU Clock
- ~1 GHz QDR Memory Clock (5 effective GHz)
- ~160 GB/s video memory bandwidth
The new cards undercut the Radeon HD 7950 by $50-100, placing the product around $349-399. You should expect the announcement around Computex Taipei in May 2012.
SAPPHIRE is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their Toxic-branded video cards, and it looks as though the SAPPHIRE HD 7970 Toxic is going to be no different, and maybe even step it up a bit when it comes to smashing the ball out of the park. The card comes with a resolution-busting 6GB of memory in 24 GDDR5 memory chips, 12 on each side.
In order to power the factory-overclocked "Tahiti" GPU from AMD, and 24 GDDR5 7 GT/s memory that takes some seriously strong VRM. Sapphire decided to implement an 8+3 phase power supply, which uses solid-state chokes, that don't whine under stress, as well as International Rectifier DirectFETs. The FRM draws power from two 8-pin PCIe connectors. Sapphire went a step further by implementing LEDs for each of the 8 vGPU phases, which gives a real-time indication of their individual loading. These LEDs can be seen through a window on top of the card, as pictured below.
The cooler is built from a large aluminum fin heatsink which draws heat from teh GPU and memory chips on the obverse side of the PCB. The FETs on the obverse side are cooled by additional heatsinks. From here, we have the memory chips on the reverse side of the PCB cooled by a metal back-plate. The heatsink makes use of four 8mm-thick nickel-plated copper heat pipes, as well as a vapor-chamber plate. This is ventilated by two 80mm fans.
With the release of the kick-ass GTX 680 at a competitive price point, many thought, including me, that the HD 7970 would undergo a price cut to be more competitive. Let's be realistic: the GTX 680 beats the HD 7970 in almost every single benchmark, including being more efficient, at a lower price point. It's pretty hard to justify charging $50 more for a worse card.
Or is it? Again, let's be realistic. The GTX 680 can hardly be purchased anywhere and when it is in stock, it's bought out in a matter of hours. This was something the HD 7970 had trouble with as well up until a few weeks before the 680 launch. Then it suddenly got plenty of stock. So while the 680 can hardly be purchased anywhere, the HD 7970 has the luxury of being widely available.
So, there's a few conclusions that can be drawn from this. First, AMD thought Nvidia would continue their practice of pricing higher performing cards at a premium. Second, it could be that AMD can't afford to drop the price on the 7970. The silicon is a pretty complex chip, and as such is expensive.
Additionally, the current pricing scheme places each series $100 apart. A $50 drop in the 7970 pricing would require a similar drop across the board. As of yet, Nvidia doesn't have any competing chips at the lower mainstream price level where the majority of sales are. So AMD can either sacrifice the HD 7970 or they can sacrifice the rest of the line up to save the HD 7970.
Time for another rumor, so go ahead, get the salt out and throw some over your shoulder, and for good measure, find some wood and knock on it. Now that we're done with that, let's move onto the goods. We have what we believe to be the specifications for the Kepler based GK106. This chip should end up being a direct competitor to the HD 7950, HD 7870, GTX 560 Ti, GTX 560 Ti 448 and GTX 560.
The specifications are said to be as follows:
- 28nm TSMC lithography based on Kepler
- 210mm2 die size
- Two GPC
- Four SMX
- 768 CUDA cores
- 64 texture units
- 24 ROPs
- 1.5/2GB RAM
- 192-bit memory interface
- No frequencies have been specified
The card is expected to land in Q3 of 2012 which is still a fair distance off but could be just in time for the summer upgrade season. If it performs anywhere like the GTX 680, we should have another good card on our hands. It will be interesting to see if they price it at a competitive price like they did with the GTX 680.