DX11 Cards

Was the wait worth it? Will you be buying one?

  • Price is too high so no to Fermi..

    Votes: 2 16.7%
  • I bought a 5000 series and am happy..

    Votes: 5 41.7%
  • Both Fermi and 5000 series way too expensive

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • At last! Can't wait to get my Fermi.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm waiting until the price drops.

    Votes: 4 33.3%
  • I'm going to wait for the refresh and 512 cores

    Votes: 1 8.3%

  • Total voters


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NVIDIA GF100 (Fermi) Technology preview

Last week we arrived in Sin City not only to cover CES, but because there was something else going on as well. In Las Vegas, NVIDIA
had organized a briefing for a select group of the press. From Europe perhaps ten to fifteen people were invited for this somewhat privileged preview -- the topic, a technical overview of project Fermi. Fermi is of course the family name of the latest generation of GPUs from NVIDIA. The first chipset deriving from Fermi will be called the GF100 GPU which will likely be used on what we think will be called products like GeForce 360 and GeForce 380.
GPUs .. or should we call them graphics CPUs these days? As we certainly do see a large shift from using graphics cards
as devices for gaming to a lot of other things as well. It does make one wonder, how long will it be before a GPU is to be considered the same as a CPU?
More on that later. In today's article we are going to look a little deeper into what you guys know as Fermi, but really what should be denoted as GF100. Now you have seen a lot of rumours and speculation on the GF100 already. Some of the rumours we'll be able to squash today, others will remain a mystery until launch as really, this is not even a paper launch, we can talk about the GPU -- and that's it.
Read on:
NVIDIA GF100 (Fermi) Technology preview


Next Generation Cuda Architecture

512 CUDA Cores

* Optimized performance and accuracy with up to 8X faster double precision
* Versatile accelerators for a wide variety of applications

32x Antialiasing Mode

NVIDIA Parallel DataCache

* First GPU architecture to support a true cache hierarchy in combination with on-chip shared memory
* Improves bandwidth and reduces latency through L1 cache’s configurable shared memory
* Fast, coherent data sharing across the GPU through unified L2 cache

NVIDIA GigaThread™ Engine

* Increased efficiency with concurrent kernel execution
* Dedicated, bi-directional data transfer engines
* Intelligently manage tens of thousands of threads

ECC Support

* First GPU architecture to support ECC
* Detects and corrects errors before system is affected
* Protects register files, shared memories, L1 and L2 cache, and DRAM



Fermi GF100: The new DirectX 11 and Ray Tracing tech demos

Nvidia Fermi: GF100 tech roundup

Nvidia GF100: Fermi Geforce graphics cards running Unigine Heaven DirectX 11 benchmark

NVIDIA | Facebook

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The RV870 Story: AMD Showing up to the Fight

My love/hate relationship with AMD PR continued last year. But lately, it’s been far less hate. Let’s rewind back to the Summer of 2009. I’d been waiting for AMD to call for weeks.
We all knew that the RV870 was going to launch sometime before the end of the year, and we’re normally briefed on new GPUs around a month or so before we get hardware. The rumors said that the launch had been pushed back, but just like clockwork I got a call in June or July of last year. It was my old friend, Chris Hook of AMD PR.

This is an excellent article, well worth the read: AnandTech: The RV870 Story: AMD Showing up to the Fight


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A few weeks ago I wrote in a post that the last time I saw anything like the latest Nvidia Fermi debacle was around the time of the ATI 2900. The situation was more or less exactly same except Nvidia was the market leader and ATI was playing catch up. The 8800 series had been released by Nvidia (we all know what a phenomenal success that was ) and the world was waiting for ATI's 2900 which according to the 'fud' was the best thing ATI had ever produced. Unfortunately the reality was far different and when the 2900 was eventually released it stank. Now I see the same situation but this time with Nvidia and then today I read this.....

Nvidia's Fermi GTX480 is broken and unfixable

Hot, slow, late and unmanufacturable

by Charlie Demerjian

February 17, 2010

WITH ANOTHER LAUNCH of the Nvidia GT300 Fermi GF100 GTX480 upon us, it is time for an update on the status of that wayward part. Production parts have been coming back from TSMC for several weeks now, and the outlook for them is grim.

We first got word that production A3 GF100s were back in Santa Clara near the end of January. When enough of them rolled off the line to characterize the silicon, we hear there were no parties in Santa Clara. For those not interested in the 'why' side of things, the short answer is that the top bin as it stands now is about 600MHz for the half hot clock, and 1200MHz for the hot clock, and the initial top part will have 448 shaders. On top of that, the fab wafer yields are still in single digit percentages.

That said, the situation is far more nuanced than those three numbers suggest, and the atrocious yields are even after the chip has been downclocked and defective units fused off. To make matters even worse, the problems that caused these low yields are likely unfixable without a complete re-layout. Lets look at these problems one at a time.

Number one on Nvidia's hit list is yields. If you recall, we said that the yield on the first hot lot of Fermis that came back from TSMC was 7 good chips out of a total of 416 candidates, or a yield of less than 2 percent.

The problem that Nvidia faces can be traced to what it is doing to fix the issues they face. The three steppings of GF100 are all what are known as metal layer spins, something that is cheaper and faster than a full base layer respin, taking about two months to see results. A full base layer respin takes well over a quarter, likely more than six months to accomplish, and costs more than $1 million just for the masks. Metal layer spins are denoted by upping the number, A1 to A2 for example, while base layer respins up the letter, A3 to B1. Nvidia counts first silicon from A1, so the current A3 is the third metal spin.

Metal layer spins tend to solve logic problem like 1 + 1 = 3, not power or yield issues. Most yield problems are related to the process that the chips are made on, and modified by factors like how fast you try to run the transistors, how much you bend the design rules, and other related issues. While this is a very simplified version, metal layer spins don't tend to do much for power consumption or yield problems.

When Nvidia got its first Fermi GF100 silicon back in early September, and you can read about the dates and steppings on the chips in this story, clock speeds were hovering around 500MHz and yields were in single digit percentages. These numbers were shockingly low, but on the first batch of silicon, rushed through the fab hence the name hot lot, problems are quite common.

The second spin, A2, did up the clock speeds a bit, but yields remained stubbornly low. It was a month or so overdue, so you can be pretty sure the problems that were being worked on were fairly difficult. This is not a process that you tolerate any unnecessary delays on.

SemiAccurate has heard that the A3 silicon hot lots that came back just before Christmas didn't improve clock speeds at all, or not enough to be considered a fix. That isn't a surprise because Nvidia was using the wrong tool, metal layer changes, to fix a clock speed and power problem. Yields on A3 hot lots also were in the toilet. As we have been saying since we first heard about the design last March, it is unmanufacturable, and the changes that might possibly fix things will take a full re-layout.

Why are things this bad? The simple answer is that Nvidia didn't do its homework. Just like the failures that lead to the bad bumps, Nvidia simply didn't do test, instead it tried to brute force things that require nuance and methodical forethought. ATI did test. ATI put out a full production run of HD4770 (RV740 silicon) GPUs and used that as a test of TSMC's 40nm process. TSMC looks to have failed, badly, but crucially, ATI learned why and how the parts failed to yield. That learning was fed back in to the Evergreen 5000 series GPUs, and those come off the line at perfectly acceptable yield rates now.

Nvidia in the meantime had four 40nm GPUs in the pipeline for Q1 of 2009, the G212, G214, G216 and G218, shrinks and updates of the 55nm G200b, G92b, G94 and G96 respectively. G212 was so bad that it was knifed before it ever saw silicon, and the second largest one, the G214 had to go on a massive diet, dropping from 128 shaders to 96. This was renamed G215, and finally came out in November 2009. It is sold as the GT240, G216 is sold as the GT220, and the G218 is on the market as the G210. All have had innumerable renamings and are currently being parlayed as 300-series chips for no apparent reason.

The problem here is that the chips are approximately 139mm^2, 100mm^2 and 57mm^2 for the G215, G216 and G218 respectively. ATI's RV740 is 137mm^2. These are all very small, while the higher end 55nm G200b was over 480mm^2, and the earlier 65nm G200 was over 575mm^2.

ATI was making salable quantities of a 137mm^2 chip in April 2009. Nvidia had severe problems with the 40nm process and only got the G216 and G218 out in August 2009 as OEM-only GPUs. It took months for the yield to reach a point where Nvidia could release retail cards, and the G215 lagged the first two by several months.

A really rough measure of yield is that for similar products, the yield goes down by the square of the die size. A 200mm^2 chip can be expected to have 1/4 the yield of a similar 100mm^2 chip, and a 50mm^2 chip will have about 4 times the yield of the 100mm^2 part. Chip makers put lots of redundant structures into every design in order to repair some kinds of fabrication errors, but there are limits.

Each redundancy adds to the area of the design, so the base cost for the chip is higher. Semiconductor manufacturing is a series of complex tradeoffs, and the cost for redundant area versus yield is one of the simpler ones. If you plan right, you can make very high yielding chips with only a little extra die area.

If things go well, the cost of the redundant area is less than you would lose by not having it there at all. If things go badly, you get large chips that you can't make at anything close to a viable cost. The AMD K6-III CPU was rumored to be an example of this kind of failure.

Last spring and summer, ATI was not shy about telling people that the lessons learned from the RV740 were fed back into the Evergreen 5000 series chips, and it was a very productive learning experience. One of the deep, dark secrets was that there were via (interconnects between the metal layers on the chip) problems. The other was that the TSMC 40nm transistors were quite variable in transistor construction, specifically in the channel length.

Since Anand talked about both problems in his excellent Evergreen history article, any promises to keep this secret are now a moot point. What ATI did with Evergreen was to put two vias in instead of one. It also changed transistor designs and layout to mitigate the variances. Both of these cost a lot of area, and likely burn a more than negligible amount of energy, but they are necessary.

Nvidia on the other hand did not do their homework at all. In its usual 'bull in a china shop' way, SemiAccurate was told several times that the officially blessed Nvidia solution to the problem was engineering by screaming at people. Needless to say, while cathartic, it does not change chip design or the laws of physics. It doesn't make you friends either.

By the time Nvidia found out about the problems, it was far too late to implement them in Fermi GF100. Unless TSMC pulled off a miracle, the design was basically doomed.

Why? GF100 is about 550mm^2 in size, slightly larger than we reported after tapeout. Nvidia ran into severe yield problems with a 100mm^2 chip, a 3 month delay with a 139mm^2 chip, and had to scrap any larger designs due to a complete inability to manufacture them. Without doing the homework ATI did, it is now trying to make a 550mm^2 part.

Basic math says that the GF100 is a hair under 4 times as large as the G215, and they are somewhat similar chips, so you can expect GF100 yields to be around 1/16th that of the smaller part. G215 is not yielding well, but even if it was at a 99 percent yield, you could expect Fermi GF100 to have single digit percentage yields. Last time we heard hard numbers, the G215 was not yielding that high.

Fixing these problems requires Nvidia to do what ATI did for Evergreen, that is, double up on the vias and also change the circuits in a non-trivial way. This process requires a lot of engineering time, a base layer respin, and probably at least one metal spin on top of that. If everything goes perfectly, it will still be more than six months before it can bring a fix to market.

While this is bad for Nvidia, and likely terminal for Fermi GF100 as an economically viable chip, it does actually get worse. The chip is big and hot. Insiders have told SemiAccurate that the chips shown at CES consumed 280W. Nvidia knew that the GPU would consume a lot of power long before the chip ever taped out, but it probably thought it would be around the 225W mark claimed for the compute boards.

To combat this, Nvidia engineers tell SemiAccurate that the decision was made to run the chip at a very low voltage, 1.05V versus 1.15V for ATI's Cypress. Since ATI draws less power for Cypress, 188W TDP vs 225W TDP for the Fermi GF100, every time Nvidia needs to tweak the voltage of its card, that results in roughly 50 percent more amperage used for every .01V the core is raised by. While this is oversimplification, the take-home message is that Nvidia made choices that result in more power added than ATI if the voltages need to be upped.

Remember the part about TSMC having variable transistors? This means some are 'leaky', meaning they consume more power than their less leaky brethren, and others run slower. The traditional fix for the slow transistors is to up the voltage, and that often works to make a 'weak' transistor perform correctly. It also makes leaky transistors leak more, and the more they leak, the hotter they get.

Hotter transistors also leak more than cooler ones, so you get into a cycle where leakage leads to higher temperatures, which make things leak more, and so on. One way to combat this is to put a much more aggressive heatsink and fan on the card, but that costs a lot of money, and tends to make a lot of noise. If you are having a flashback to the Nvidia NV30 GeForce 5800 'dustbuster', that is exactly it.

TSMC's variability means that there are lots of weak transistors scattered throughout the die, and lots of leaky transistors. If Nvidia ups the voltage, they start sucking up power at a huge rate. If it doesn't, the weak transistors basically do not work, and are effectively 'broken' or 'defective'. The two goals are mutually antagonistic, and the low voltage, high amperage choices made by Nvidia only multiply the problems.

If that wasn't bad enough, sources tell SemiAccurate that the TSMC 40nm process is very heat sensitive. Leakage goes way up with heat, much more so than with previous processes. If you go past a certain critical temperature, leakage goes up shockingly fast. The jail that Fermi GF100 is in now has three sides closing in on the chip.

The alternative is to fuse off shaders with too many 'weak' transistors, and leave the voltage alone. Unfortunately, another bad architectural choice makes this very unpalatable. Fermi GF100 is arranged into 16 clusters of 32 shaders for a total of 512 shaders on the chip. By all accounts, if you are going to fuse off one, you are forced to fuse off a full set of 32. Since the weak transistors are scattered evenly throughout the GPU, fusing off two would mean that you lose not two but 64 shaders. This level of granularity is bad, and you have to question why that choice was made in light of the known huge die size.

On the current A3 silicon, sources tell us that Nvidia is having to use both 'fixes', fusing off at least two clusters and upping the voltage. This results in a GPU that consumes more power while having at least 12.5 percent less performance than intended. If you were going to use one in your PC, this may be manageable, but hundreds or thousands of them in a big supercomputer is a non-starter.

For reasons tied to the power consumption and weak transistors, Fermi GF100 simply will not run at high clocks. Last March, sources told SemiAccurate that the intended clock frequencies were 750MHz for the 'low' clock and 1500MHz for the high clock. Since you can only pull off so many miracles with a voltage bump, we hear the A3 production silicon has a top bin of 600/1200MHz, and that is after an average of two shader clusters are turned off.

Nvidia was claiming 60 percent more performance than Cypress last fall. That quickly dropped to 40 percent better, and at CES, Nvidia could only show very select snippets of games and benchmarks that were picked to show off its architectural strengths. Those maxed out at about 60 percent better than Cypress, so consider them a best case.

If that 60 percent was from a fully working 512 shader, 750/1500MHz Fermi GF100, likely the case at 280W power draw, than a 448 shader 600/1200MHz GPU would have 87.5 percent of the shaders and 80 percent of the clock. 160 * 0.875 * 0.8 = 112 percent of the performance of ATI's Cypress. This is well within range of a mildly updated and refreshed Cypress chip. Don't forget that ATI has a dual Cypress board on the market, something that Fermi GF100 can't hope to touch for performance.

Fermi GF100 is about 60 percent larger than Cypress, meaning at a minimum that it costs Nvidia at least 60 percent more to make, realistically closer to three times. Nvidia needs to have a commanding performance lead over ATI in order to set prices at the point where it can make money on the chip even if yields are not taken into account. ATI has set the upper pricing bound with its dual Cypress board called Hemlock HD5970.

Rumors abound that Nvidia will only have 5,000 to 8,000 Fermi GF100s, branded GTX480 in the first run of cards. The number SemiAccurate has heard directly is a less specific 'under 10,000'. There will have been about two months of production by the time those launch in late March, and Nvidia bought 9,000 risk wafers late last year. Presumably those will be used for the first run. With 104 die candidates per wafer, 9,000 wafers means 936K chips.

Even if Nvidia beats the initial production targets by ten times, its yields are still in the single digit range. At $5,000 per wafer, 10 good dies per wafer, with good being a very relative term, that puts cost at around $500 per chip, over ten times ATI's cost. The BoM cost for a GTX480 is more than the retail price of an ATI HD5970, a card that will slap it silly in the benchmarks. At these prices, even the workstation and compute cards start to have their margins squeezed.

The two real fixes, doubling the vias and redesigned circuits to minimize the impact of transistor variances both require a full re-layout. Both also cost time and die area. The time is at least six months from tapeout, if you recall. Fermi taped out in late July and was only slated for small numbers at retail in late November, a very unrealistic goal. A B1 spin of the chip would be at least Q3 of 2010 if it tapes out today, and it won't have a useful life before it is supplanted by the next generation of 28nm chips.

Should Nvidia make the necessary changes, that brings up two more problems. Nvidia is at two limits of chip engineering, a die size wall and a power wall. The power wall is simple, a PCIe card has a hard limit of 300W, anything more and you will not get PCIe certified. No certification means legal liability problems, and OEMs won't put it in their PCs. This is death for any mass market card. The power can only be turned up so far, and at 280W, Nvidia already has the dial on 9.5.

The die size wall is similar, you can only fit a mask of a certain size in the TSMC tools. The G200 pushed that limit, and the changes to Fermi/GF100 would likely push the chip to a size that would simply not fit in the tools needed to make it. At that point, you have to look at removing units, a task which adds even more time to the stepping. The only way to make it work is a shrink to 28nm, but the first 28nm process that is suitable is not going to have wafers running until the last few days of 2010, best case.

Fermi GF100 is six months late and slipping, can't be made profitably if it can be made at all, and initial production is going to be limited to essentially a PR stunt. Every card made will be sold at a huge loss, meaning that there will probably not be any more wafers run after the initial 9,000 risk wafers are used up. Those were paid for in advance, so there is little harm to finishing them for a stopgap PR stunt.

The chip is unworkable, unmanufacturable, and unfixable. If Nvidia management has any semblance of engineering sense, it will declare its usual victory with Fermi and focus resources on Fermi II, something it is still promising for 2010. The changes needed to fix the first Fermi are basically not doable until the chip is shrunk to 28nm, the size is just too big.

This puts any hope for Nvidia out until 2011 for anything but PR stunts. The derivative parts for Fermi exist only on paper, they haven't taped out yet. If Nvidia does tape them out, they will have the same size, yield and power problems as Fermi GF100. ATI will price them into the red, so there is no way Nvidia can make money on the derivatives, and there is no way it can fix the problems in time to matter either. Nvidia will not have any economically viable DX11 parts until the last days of 2010 if everything goes well from here.

As we have been saying since last May, Fermi GF100 is the wrong chip, made the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Dear Leader has opened the proverbial can of Whoop-*** on the competition, and on top of that criticized Intel's Larrabee for everything that ended up sinking Fermi GF100. Intel had the common sense to refocus Larrabee and take a PR hit rather than pouring tens of millions more dollars down the drain for no good reason. It doesn't look like Nvidia has the management skills to make that call. The company not only designed a 'Laughabee', it went against all sense and built that too.S|A

SemiAccurate :: Nvidia's Fermi GTX480 is broken and unfixable


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Looks like things aren't looking so good for Fermi:

SemiAccurate gets some GTX480 scores

Hot, buggy and far too slow

by Charlie Demerjian

February 20, 2010

NVIDIA HAS BEEN hinting about the performance of its upcoming GTX480 cards, and several of our moles got a lot of hands on time with a few cards recently. If you are waiting for killer results from the 'puppy', prepare for severe disappointment.

The short story about the woefully delayed GTX480, and it's little sibling the GTX470 is that it is far slower than Nvidia has been hinting at, and there is a lot of work yet to be done before it is salable. Our sources have a bit of conflicting data, but the vast majority of the numbers line up between them.

Small numbers of final cards have started to trickle in to Nvidia, and it is only showing them to people it considers very friendly for reasons that we will make clear in a bit. Because of the small circle of people who have access to the data we are going to blur a few data points to protect our sources. That said, on with the show.

There are two cards, the GTX480 having the full complement of 512 shaders, and the GTX470 with only 448, which is 64 less for the math impaired. The clocks for the 480 are either 600MHz or 625MHz for the low or half clock, and double that, 1200MHz or 1250MHz for the high or hot clock. Nvidia was aiming for 750/1500MHz last spring, so this is a huge miss. This speed is the first point the sources conflict on, and it could go either way, since both sources were adamant about theirs being the correct final clock. *sigh*.

On the GTX470 side, there are 448 shaders, and the clocks are set at 625MHz and 1250MHz in both cases. If the GTX480 is really at 600Mhz and 1200MHz, and the GTX470 is slightly faster, it should really make you wonder about the thermals of the chip. Remember when we said that the GF100 GTX480 chip was having problems with transistors at minimal voltages? Basically Nvidia has to crank the voltages beyond what it wanted to keep borderline transistors from flaking out. The problem is that this creates heat, and a lot of it. Both of our sources said that their cards were smoking hot. One said they measured it at 70C at idle on the 2D clock.

The fans were reported to be running at 70 percent of maximum when idling, a number that is far, far too high for normal use. Lets hope that this is just a BIOS tweaking issue, and the fans don't need to be run that fast. It would mean GF100 basically can't downvolt at all on idle. On the upside, if it's any comfort, the noise from the fans at that speed was said to be noticeable, but not annoying.

If you are wondering why Nvidia made such a big deal about GF100 GTX480 certified cases, well, now you know. Remember, higher temperatures mean more leakage, which means more heat, and then the magic smoke that makes transistors work gets let out in a thermal runaway. You simply have to keep this beast cool all the time.

While this backs up many of the theories on how Nvidia lost so much clock speed, it isn't conclusive. The take home message is that this chip has some very serious thermal problems, and Nvidia is in a box when it comes to what it can do to mitigate the problem.

Now that you know the raw clocks, how does it perform? It is a mixed bag, but basically the cards are much below Nvidia's original expectations publicly stated as 60 percent faster than Cypress. The numbers that SemiAccurate were told span a variety of current games, all running at very high resolutions. Here is where we can't list specifics or the Nvidia Keystone Kops might find their first SemiAccurate mole. We will bring you the full spreadsheets when the cards are more widespread.

The GTX480 with 512 shaders running at full speed, 600Mhz or 625MHz depending on which source, ran on average 5 percent faster than a Cypress HD5870, plus or minus a little bit. The sources were not allowed to test the GTX470, which is likely an admission that it will be slower than the Cypress HD5870.

There is one bright spot, and it is a very bright spot indeed. No, not the thermal cap of the chip, but the tessellation performance in Heaven. On that synthetic benchmark, the numbers were more than twice as fast as the Cypress HD5870, and will likely beat a dual chip Hemlock HD5970. The sources said that this lead was most definitely not reflected in any game or test they ran, it was only in tessellation limited situations where the shaders don't need to be used for 'real work'.

Update: The games tested DID include DX11 games, and those are still in the 5% range. Heaven uses tessellation in a way that games can not, Heaven can utilize far more shaders for tessellation than a normal game can, they have to use them for, well, the game itself. The performance of Heaven on GTX480 was not reflected in any games tested by our sources, DX9, 10, 10.1 or 11.

The GF100 GTX480 was not meant to be a GPU, it was a GPGPU chip pulled into service for graphics when the other plans at Nvidia failed. It is far too math DP FP heavy to be a good graphics chip, but roping shaders into doing tessellation is the one place where there is synergy. This is the only place where the GTX480 stood out from a HD5870. The benchmarks that Nvidia showed off at CES were hand-picked for good reason. They were the only ones that Nvidia could show a win on, something it really needs to capture sales for this card and its derivatives, if any.

There was one problem that the sources pointed to, on Heaven, which was that the benchmark had many visible and quite noticeable glitches. If you were wondering why Nvidia only showed very specific clips of it at CES, that is why. DX11 isn't quite all there yet for the GTX480. This is probably why we have been hearing rumors of the card not having DX11 drivers on launch, but we can't see Nvidia launching the chip without them.

Getting back to the selective showings of the GTX480, there is a good reason for it. The performance is too close to the HD5870, so Nvidia will be forced to sell it at HD5870 prices, basically $400. The GPU isn't a money maker at this price point, and at best, Nvidia can price it between the $400 HD5870 and the $600 HD5970. The only tools left to deal with this issue are PR and marketing as the chip is currently in production.

If potential buyers get a wide range of benchmarks and correct specs, the conclusion will likely be that the GTX480 equals the HD5870 in performance. There will be no reviews based upon cards purchased in the wild for months. The way Nvidia has dealt with this in the past has been to control who gets access to cards and to hand pick the ones sent out.

If you give the GTX480 to honest journalists, they will likely say that the two cards, the GTX480 and the HD5870, show equivalent performance, so we hear Nvidia is doing its best to keep the GTX480 out of the hands of the honest. This means that only journalists who are known to follow the "reviewer's guide" closely, are willing to downplay the negatives, and will hit the important bullet points provided by Nvidia PR will be the ones most likely to gain early access to these cards. If this sounds unethical to you, it is, and it's not the first time. This is exactly what Nvidia did to cut Anand, Kyle and several others out of the GTS250 at launch. That worked out so well the last time that Nvidia will probably try it again. Expect fireworks when some people realize that they have been cut out for telling the truth.

The end result is that the GTX480 is simply not fast enough to deliver a resounding win in anything but the most contrived benchmark scenarios. It is well within range of a mildly upclocked HD5870, which is something that ATI can do pretty much on a whim. The GTX480 can barely beat the second fastest ATI card, and it doesn't have a chance at the top.

GTX480 is too hot, too big, too slow, and lacks anything that would recommend it over a HD5870, much less the vastly faster HD5970. Nvidia is said to be producing only 5,000 to 8,000 of these cards, and it will lose money on each one. The architecture is wrong, and that is unfixable. The physical design is broken, and that is not fixable in any time frame that matters. When you don't have anything to show, spin. Nvidia is spinning faster than it ever has before.S|A

SemiAccurate :: SemiAccurate gets some GTX480 scores


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Release of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470 can be held on March 27

It seems tedious long wait the new generation NVIDIA video cards Fermi coming to an end. On the official page of NVIDIA Twitter has information on preparing the company from Santa Clara (Santa Clara) "important announcement" scheduled for February 22, that is, on Monday. It is likely, this announcement is just and will focus on graphics cards, belonging to the family of NVIDIA Fermi.

We have repeatedly reported that the first graphics cards NVIDIA, related to the generation of Fermi, should become a model GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470, built on the basis of the chip GF100. If projections are confirmed, these adapters will be the first products NVIDIA, equipped with technology to support DirectX 11.

It is assumed that this would allow, GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470, as well as other accelerators series GeForce GTX 4xx compete for a place in the sun had already appeared on the market models in the rulers AMD Radeon HD 5800 and Radeon HD 5900, which are also DirectX 11 compatible solutions. Also reported that the release of graphics cards GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470 should take place on 27 or 29 March 2010.

Release of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470 can be held on March 27


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Pricing for the 480 is starting to be revealed:

Turkish hadrware site Donanimhaber.com published pricing informations about upcoming GeForce GTX 480. According to site, Sabre PC webshop listed XFX and PNY GeForce GTX 480 for $680

XFX GeForce GTX 480 pricing revealed | SITEX 2009 | VR-Zone | Gadgets | PC Enthusiasts


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The rumours concerning performance grow more solid with this posting today at Guru 3D

NVIDIA and its troubled GeForce 400 series
By: Hilbert Hagedoorn | Edited by Eddie | Published: February 22, 2010

NVIDIA and its troubled GeForce 400 series

Today I wanted to write a little 'opinionated' editorial. Typically we do not address rumors and gossip. But an accumulation of things that have been going on over at camp NVIDIA and the Internet leading us to believe things are not as they should be. The rumors are creating a rather negative stigma for NVIDIA.

Last week most of NVIDIA's partner got sampled with the first GeForce 400 series graphics cards, and of course somebody somewhere leaked information towards a person which We'll just call 'Mr C', this friendly little fellah has an unnatural and seriously unhealthy attitude towards NVIDIA, I'm seriously afraid he's gonna stroke out some day. Take a chill pill man, it's just hardware.

With his most recent plot and post however a lot of chatter started on the web with ATI fans attacked NVIDIA fans, the guy is really good stirring up things, yet his claims are often well .. very semi-accurate for sure. What I wanted to do is talk you through what has been happening at NVIDIA (from what we know), where we are and what's going to happen.

So it was what .. roughly summer 2009 when NVIDIA taped out a new product series under family name Fermi. Initially Fermi was supposed to launch alongside Windows 7 back in October 2009, mind you that it was taped out -- add to that 6-8 eight weeks for the first products get get into real production. That makes total sense.

Due to 40nm yield issues (broken chips on a wafer) the initial launch got delayed, with a silent hope of a Christmasrelease. That didn't happen. NVIDIA had time though, DX11 is not yet taking off, but also underrated for DX11 to take and create incentive to developers and end-users to invest in it, you'll actually have to release it sooner than later. It's all about adoption rate.

At CES Fermi very likely was supposed to launch, NVIDIA invited selected press to attend a briefing, that briefing in the end became an GPU architecture deep dive briefing. It was weird to the extent that the press wasn't even allowed to even see the product physically, neither where any details on clocks, TDP, temps shared whatsoever. At that very briefing Guru3D was promised boards in February for review with a launch during CeBIT. Well ..today is the 22nd of February, there are no boards seeded to press.

Last week I had a brief call with our primary NVIDIA contact regarding CeBIT and he didn't even mention Fermi once, when I asked when we could expect samples the word got out, likely during or after CeBIT. So while you'll see GeForce 400 boards shown at CeBIT, we do not expect it to launch next week.

Perhaps there might be a launch in March but we feel (yet do not hope) its going to be a paper launch with a small selection of press seed samples. Last week NVIDIA's CEO made a rather remarkable comment indicating they still need more time, Fermi based products will be available in good volume starting Q2, a financial quarter.

“Q2 [of FY 2011] is going to be the quarter when Fermi is hitting the full stride. It will not just be one Fermi product, there will be a couple of Fermi products to span many different price ranges, but also the Fermi products will span GeForce Quadro and Tesla. So, we are going to be ramping now on Fermi architecture products through Q2 and we are building a lot of it. I am really excited about the upcoming launch of Fermi and I think it will more than offset the seasonality that we usually see in Q2,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia, during the most recent conference call with financial analysts.

Financial Quarters in the industry however end one month later than you and I assume, Q2 for NVIDIA means the start of May 2010.

Here's what we think is going to happen, during March we'll definitely see the launch of GeForce 470 and 480, though with low allocation and volume available until Q2. Once we hit Q2 expect a lot, seriously a lot of derivative DX11 class products for the midrange, entry-level and low-end spectrum as well. Why ? Well NVIDIA is late to the market, real late .. roughly six months ago GeForce 480 and 470 should have been released and the other planned products overlap that timeframe. The summer is going to be busy for NVIDIA, either that or they will be re-scheduling their product releases.

So that's my vision of what is going to happen in the next three months.

Now let's go a little deeper into the issues causing the delays. Initially NVIDIA ran into a can of worms with the A1 revision of GF100 (Fermi), yields have had to be incredible horrible as they very quickly shifted to revision (build) A2 of the ASIC. After revision A2 was out some time passed and TSMC reported that the majority of their 40nm issues had been solved. Good proof of that is that ATI is pushing out many DX11 class product in much diversity and reasonable volume. That means the wafer yields, though likely not very good, where okay enough. So there's something else going on as well next to yield issues. Either a bug slipped in or the thermal package is causing issues resulting in lower than anticipated clock frequencies and perhaps heat related issues.

Last week NVIDIA's board partners finally got samples of Fermi based products. This means a finalized package - with perhaps some clock changes at best. Most of the partners received a GeForce GTX 470. Now here's the difference with the aforementioned website, we know the majority specs and some performance results, however I'm not about to share them, I mean come on ... give NVIDIA some credit here.

What I will tell you is that the clock frequencies on these boards surprised me, the GeForce 470 seems to be clocked at roughly 650 MHz, that's lower than I expected. And that indeed will have an effect on performance. I think it's safe to that the GeForce 470 and 480 will be worthy competitors towards the Radeon HD 5850 and 5870. Will it be a knock-out ? I doubt it very much. But is it important for NVIDIA to deliver a knockout to the competition ? Well they would hope so, but no .. not really, as the current performance levels that ATI for example offers simply are superb already. Being six months late to the market does pose an issue, ATI will already be respinning and binning their upcoming products, clocked higher and they could match NVIDIA in either price or performance.

Whether or not how much faster or slower Fermi / GT100 will be will remain trivial, but it will al depend on pricing. If Fermi is slightly slower, then the prices will be adjusted accordingly. So in the end it will everything will make sense again.

Back to reality. We found out (and verified), surprisingly enough, that the GPU is already at revision A3, that's the third revision of the GPU, the GF100 already has had three builds. So yes, something was wrong, very wrong alongside the initial yield issues. But we know that the products right now are in volume production, will it be many weeks before we see good availability ? Sure it will. Maybe April, or indeed May is where things will start to make a difference. Performance will be very good, however with the clocks I have seen (and only if they are final) I do believe they will not be brilliant though. NVIDIA has many trump cards though, they have an outstanding driver team which will drive performance upwards fast and soon.

And that's where I like to end this little opinionated article. NVIDIA's Fermi is not a what I read somewhere "a sinking ship" or to quote "Hot, buggy and far too slow". I have no doubt it will be a good product series, but I'll agree on this, NVIDIA likely would have wanted to squeeze some more performance out of it as it was likely the most difficult product they have ever gotten to market, it has been fighting them all the way.

In the end as stated we are not sharing juicy details or the performance numbers we have seen. As always, in order to remain objective you judge a product once you actually have had it in your hands to test it. Which is what we intend to do.

In the end I'm not concerned about NVIDIA, but the AIB and AIC partners heavily rely on these new products in already harsh times. And for them this all is and was worrisome. So with that I'd like to close, patience, my friend, is a virtue ... we should all have a little more and base our real opinions on the final product, and not blindly absorb rumors on the web. We do expect a final release late March. But that as well remains a rumor, of course.

NVIDIA and its troubled GeForce 400 series

Fermi first benchmarks are out (GTX380, GTX360) - Nvidia - Graphic-Displays


GTX 380
CUDA cores 512
core clock 730MHz
shader clock 1600MHz
Memory 1100MHz 2GB
TDP(watts) 225w

GTX 360
CUDA cores 480
core clock 650MHz
shader clock 1400MHz
Memory 1000MHz 1.8GB
TDP(watts) 195w

Fermi first benchmarks are out (GTX380, GTX360) - Nvidia - Graphic-Displays

I'm not sure how real these are as a GTX 380/360 doesn't even exist: Now if the graph said GTX480/470 then maybe...


You are right. Neither can I hold much that these benches are real. Many sources assume they were taken from NVIDIA Fermi prototype presentation, and some sources claim those results were fabricated from an early Fermi roadmap. But they look quite plausible to me when I look at graphs in Fermi Computer Architecture White Paper:

Next Generation CUDA Architecture, Code Named Fermi

Texturing Performance Relative to GT200

GF100 Pathtracing Performance

GF100 GPU Compute Performance


Another well-written article is here:

Date: 2010-01-17 | Author: Mark Taliaferro
Company: Nvidia | Supplied by: Bryan

Nvidia GF100 (Fermi) GPU - Bjorn3D.com


Again, we can not be 100% sure exactly when and exactly what Fermi cards will be, all we can do for now is to rely on sources that hopefully are not too far away from truth. :)

Bugati picture rendered by Fermi.

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Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Agreed.. I suppose at a time like this rumours and speculation are going to be rife..


Extraordinary Member
Deeply saddened if they are throwing the 480GTX out for £440 GBP ($660), as a huge fan of the green machine I will cross the line to ATI rather than pay those sort of prices, unless they get the 470GTX under £300 and in a short timescale, just soooooo sick n tired of waiting only for more delays to show up, even been looking at the 285's last few weeks, that's how desperate I need to upgrade now lol. Looks like I may as well buy my new mobo and ram before the gpu and wait another 2-3 month till they get their **** sorted.

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Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Like you I'm waiting to see what happens on release.. Hopefully the 5000 series will drop in price and I'll snap one up..


Extraordinary Member
Well tomorrow is D-DAY for me, if things pan out just gonna get a ATI-5850 P43 mobo with usb3 and some gskill ddr3 ram.... I can't really see Nvidia's new toys being even close to the price of the 5850 I found.


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Sounds great.. I've got my heart set on the 5870 but refuse to pay that price: £300. As soon as they hit around £250 I'm buying.


Extraordinary Member
I found a 5850 for £195 inc vat and postage, thats a tough cookie to beat


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Great price.. I think on average they are about £220-250?

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