The saga called “Fermi” is slowly but certainly, coming to its peak. The long-delayed NV100 architecture and its first GPU, GF100 i.e. GeForce Fermi 100 will debut on Friday, March 26th at 6PM Eastern Time. We expect to see the unveiling of articles that will reveal all the details behind this architecture. If everything remains the same, there should be a review on these pages as well.
However, it was only last night when we were finally confirmed the reason for renaming the parts from GeForce GTX 370 and GTX 380 into GTX 470 and GTX 480 series. When nVidia introduced their GF100 chip, the company claimed the part comes with 512 cores, 64 Texture units and 384-bit memory controller. However, due to problematic yields for 40nm process for both AMD and nVidia, the number of 512-core parts is quite limited. In fact, we don’t know if there is going to be a single 512 core part coming to the market, even though the chip physically comes with 512 cores. If our multiple sources are to believe, GeForce GTX 480 is set to debut with 480 shader cores, a number that will certainly curb a lot of enthusiasm for the part.
Then again, bear in mind that even with 480 cores, performance of GTX 470 and GTX 480 got AMD to the point where “HD 5890” is being prepared to undercut nVidia’s prices, while AIBs got the green light to start manufacturing “HD 5990”, a dual GPU part that is making sure AMD keeps the GPU performance crown – at least until dual-Fermi board debuts.
Also, we received news about targeted prices for the parts
And they look quite competitive against six-month old ATI 5800 Series: according to the benchmarks leaked some time ago, GeForce GTX 470 will beat out HD 5850 and in some cases, even HD 5870 – for the price of HD 5850 – we were told that the ballpark figure is $299-349, while GTX 480 will run between $449-499.
The specs are again, quite interesting as GTX 470 comes with 448 cores and 320-bit memory interface [1.28GB GDDR5], while GTX 480 features 480 cores, full 384-bit memory interface and 1.54 GB of GDDR5 memory. Once that supply constraint ends, we might even see “64-bit OS only” versions with 2.56GB and 3GB of GDDR5 versions of GTX 470 and 480. For now, the only company with “64-bit OS only” boards will be AMD with the afore mentioned Dual-Cypress “5990” parts that feature 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
At the end of the day, the shroud of secrecy that company raised around their walls only lead to the lack of trust on the side of their partners. In fact, during CeBIT one of executives even told us that this is slowly starting to turn into 3dfx while Alex Leupp was in charge. The reference was clear – Alex Leupp became CEO of 3Dfx and just like John Sculley at Apple Computer, made several moves which ultimately, ran the company into the ground. In case of 3Dfx, purchase of STB resulted in destroying the AIB ecosystem around Voodoo and created nVidia’s ecosystem with RivaTNT, TNT2, TNT2 and GeForce 256.
nVidia tightened the grip around the GeForce GTX 400 series to the point of openly telling their AIB partner that nVidia does not trust them. We got numerous complaints from AIBs during CeBIT show in Hannover and a sharp warning that one or two might fold during 2010. We also heard that nVidia will sample press directly with AIB-branded products – a move that is a verbatim copy of what AMD started doing few years back. Back in 2006, ATI started to sample press with retail branded boxes featured ATI GPUs, with the 3850, continuing with 3870, 4800 and so on. Now, nVidia is continuing AMD’s tradition, even though we’re not certain it is for the best.
We wonder what’s the next step for nVidia – purchasing Flextronics and becoming and AIB all on its own? Given the continuous string of limitations to existing manufacturers, we would not be surprised if the company is even contemplating such a move. After all, that is one of reasons why Intel’s revenues are so high is the fact that Intel sells Intel motherboards, Intel workstation and server chassis, Intel NAS and many more.
Then again, Intel has multiple ASICs – processors, chipsets, controllers etc. nVidia only has two: a SoC and a GPU. Is that enough to act in the same way? Only time will tell.
Original Author: Theo Valich
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