The Kepler Architecture
Join us today at 12pm EST / 9am CST as PC Perspective hosts a Live Review on the new GeForce GTX 680 graphics card. We will discuss the new GPU technology, important features like GPU Boost, talk about performance compared to AMD's lineup and we will also have NVIDIA's own Tom Petersen on hand to run some demos and answer questions from viewers. You can find it all at http://pcper.com/live!!
NVIDIA fans have been eagerly waiting for the new Kepler architecture ever since CEO Jen-Hsun Huang first mentioned it in September 2010. In the interim, we have seen the birth of a complete lineup of AMD graphics cards based on its Southern Islands architecture including the Radeon HD 7970, HD 7950, HD 7800s and HD 7700s. To the gamer looking for an upgrade it would appear that NVIDIA had fallen behind; but the company is hoping that today's release of the GeForce GTX 680 will put them back in the driver's seat.
This new $499 graphics card will directly compete against the Radeon HD 7970, and it brings quite a few "firsts" to NVIDIA's lineup. This NVIDIA card is the first desktop 28nm GPU, the first to offer a clock speed over 1 GHz, the first to support triple-panel gaming on a single card, and the first to offer "boost" clocks that vary from game to game. Interested yet? Let's get to the good stuff.
The Kepler Architecture
In many ways, the new 28nm Kepler architecture is just an update to the Fermi design that was first introduced in the GF100 chip. NVIDIA's Jonah Alben summed things up pretty nicely for us in a discussion stating that "there are lots of tiny things changing (in Kepler) rather than a few large things which makes it difficult to tell a story."
GTX 680 Block Diagram
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 21, 2012 - 09:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pelly wants revenge, nvidia, leak, gtx 680, fermi, 28nm
Not to be outdone by NCIX, NewEgg also managed to jump the gun on the GTX 680 earlier today. The screengrab that was sent tp Bright Side of News shows their pricing of the soon to be released GTX 680 with models ranging from $500 to $535. The specs are there for all to see, a GPU running at 1.006GHz, Shader clock of 2.012GHz, effective memory of 6.008GHz and 1536 Stream Processors. Contrast that with the last GTX 580 that Josh reviewed which had a 782 MHz core, 1.564GHz shader, memory at 4.008GHz and 512 SPs and you can see it is a big step up!
If you visit NewEgg now you will be greeted with a different result, a page describing the GTX 680's various features and a Buy Now button which unfortunately doesn't work at this moment. That is a situtation which obviously cannot last as NewEgg would not have put it up. Of course the realization that you can pick up a pair of GTX 570's for the same price might just mean some recalculations will be in order once we see the performance of the actual card.
Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 11:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pelly, nvidia, leak, gtx 680, fermi, 28nm
The gang over at Tweaktown managed to get pictures of a retail Gigabyte GTX 680, which is not only better than candid snaps from Las Vegas making it to the web, it also solidifies a few facts. For instance, as you can see below there are two 6-pin PCIe power connectors which pegs the maximum supplimental power that this card can draw at 150W. That is a big difference from the two 8-pin PCIe connectors that could deliver up to 275 to a GTX 580; NVIDIA has obviously made a huge step forward in power savings with the move to 28nm regardless of any design or manufacturing problems they may have had to overcome to deliver this card to retailers.
Tweaktown didn't stop there either GPU fans; it seems that the online\brick and mortar computer chain NCIX made a little mistake and let the GTX 680 appear on their wishlist app. Both an EVGA and an MSI model of the GTX 680 could be added to your wishlist ... for the price of $578.20 USD plus delivery. That same retailer currently sells HD 7970's for between $564.99 USD to $619.99. If only there had been some leaked benchmarks which might indicate which way AMD might have to adjust their pricing.
Lucas is so going to sue you!
Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 01:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, amd, southern islands, kepler, 28nm, maxwell, llano
TSMC's 28nm process has been in the news for a long time, sometimes this was a good thing but more often it was not. Back in May of 2009 the first announcements of TSMC's brand new 28nm process hit the news with major production slated to start in early 2010. That didn't happen on time, much to several companies dismay as Josh unhappily discussed towards the end of 2010. This set a trend for TSMC's 28nm process for a while, for instance AMD did not quite meet their promise of readily available 28nm GPUs in 2011, though a late December launch for the HD7970 did meet the spirit of the agreement. The delays and issues on TSMC's 28nm lines had a variety of causes, perhaps one of the worst being TSMC's overly optimistic attitude about their production capabilities especially when AMD had a surprise for them. Add to that the long line of woes during the development and production of NVIDIA's 28nm Kepler GPU as well as the recent shutdown of the production line, and you can see why TSMC's 28nm process has spent a lot of time being maligned in the news. It almost makes you forget about the 40nm process woes, but that is ancient news.
All that effort is not going to waste as DigiTimes reports that TSMC is planning on expanding their 28nm capacity this year and expects that process to account for 10% of their 2012 revenue. The next question on most peoples minds is the progress on TSMC's 22nm process which in 2010 they announced would be ready by Q3 2012, something which NVIDIA's Maxwell team is probably anticipating with great anxiety.
"With current capacity for 28nm processes filled up, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is likely to expand the leading-edge process capacity later in 2012, according to industry sources.
TSMC reportedly is running at full capacity at its 12-inch fabs due to strong orders for 28nm as well as 40nm and 65nm designs. In order to avoid orders to rivals such as United Microelectronics (UMC) and Samsung Electronics, TSMC will have to speed up the pace of its leading-edge capacity expansion in particular its 28nm capacity, the sources said."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD releases single-processor AM3+ Opteron 3200-series chips @ The Inquirer
- D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer @ Slashdot
- Intel launches over 100 Xeon E5-2600 motherboard and chassis SKUs @ The Inquirer
- ARM's ultra-low-power fridge-puter chips: Just what the CIA ordered @ The Register
- Windows 8 to debut on both x86 and ARM devices in October, report says @ Ars Technica
- Interview with XFX Sales VP Cy Brown @ Kitguru
- Windows 8 tablet freezes in Microsoft keynote demo @ The Register
- Samsung shows 14nm and 20nm wafers @ SemiAccurate
- ASUS Masters of Overclocking Competition 2012 UK with HardwareHeaven
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 8, 2012 - 03:41 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, graphics card, gpu, GK104, gaming, 28nm
GDC 2012 is upon us, and in addition to the Samaritan demo and some gaming goodness, we spotted a leaked image over at Legit Reviews that is allegedly a photo of a production NVIDIA GTX 670 Ti graphics card.
The cooler looks to cover the whole PCB and be of the blower design, funneling hot air of the of the front of the card and out of the case. The connectors include two DVI, one HDMI, and one Display Port. Rumors suggest that the latest NVIDIA cards will be capable of multi-display (>2) from a single card much like AMD cards have been doing for some time.
Not a whole lot is known about the upcoming GK104 "Kepler" GPUs with a good deal of certainty, but we have reported on a few leaks including that the cards will have 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM on a 256 bit memory bus, and that the cards may just be coming out in May. Due to Epic using a working Kepler GPU in their Samaritan demo, that launch date does not sound too far fetched either. On the performance front, there are conflicting rumors; some rumors state that the cards will blow AMD out of the water and other people swear the cards will not be as powerful as the rumors suggest. I suppose we'll find out soon though!
Are you still waiting for NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs or have you jumped on the latest Radeon series?
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm
The news broke yesterday that TSMC had halted production on 28nm production in mid February for an undisclosed reason. SemiAccurate thought this strange as the only company that is admitting to problems with TSMC's 28nm process is NVIDIA, but at least production was scheduled to restart by the end of March. Today from DigiTimes we hear a more positive story about not only the 28nm but also the 20nm process line as TSMC predicts that the demand for chips from their customers could go as high as 95% of their capacity. Perhaps because of the lack of pressure because of a currently well stocked channel they shut down the line to ensure no preventable problems would prevent them from meeting this high demand?
"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) chairman and CEO Morris Chang has commented that development of 20nm and 28nm processes is progressing well. The market believes TSMC's capacity utilization rate in second-quarter 2012 should be close to 95%.
Chang indicated that 28nm processes will likely contribute 10% of 2012 revenues.
Industry sources pointed out that TSMC's capacity utilization of its 28nm and 45nm processes at its 12-inch wafer plant has not decreased and delivery usually takes 8-10 weeks.
Equipment makers also indicated that TSMC has been ordering equipment and installations will be completed in first-half 2012.
Industry sources added that other Taiwan-based IC design houses have been experiencing increasing orders. The market was pessimistic before the Lunar New Year holidays causing inventory levels to be low. This has induced the recent wave of increased orders."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Stop the wedding! WD, Hitachi GST told to wait a day @ The Register
- Lytro camera @ Engadget
- Micron warms up solid hardness, shoves in PCIe hole @ The Register
- Adaptec trickles RAID RoCket fuel into new Xeons @ The Register
- The five technologies that will transform homes of the future @ Ars Technica
- Nvidia joins AMD and Intel in the Linux Foundation @ The Inquirer
- For Windows 8 Users, Stardock Revives the Start Menu @ Slashdot
- Samsung WB700 Review @ HardwareLOOK
- Air Canada’s GoGo In Flight WiFi Tested; A Turbulence Free Experience @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2012 - 12:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, 28nm, TSMC, kepler, tegra, tegra 3
If you caught the podcast last night you would have heard Josh discussing NVIDIA's year end financial conference call, otherwise you will have to wait until the 'cast is posted later this week. Until then you can read SemiAccurate's take on the call here. There is a lot of news about NVIDIA and none of it is good, from wafer yields to chip demand nothing seems to have gone right for them. Attempting to move off of their cursed 40nm line and switching to 28nm, NVIDIA has run into big yield problems as in entire wafers having issues as opposed to just some dies being bad.
Tegra is not doing so well either, with sales of Tegra 2 dropping as we approach the release of Tegra 3, which is getting a lot of bad press. SemiAccurate refers to the chip as bloated in size as well as being downright expensive to make. Combine that with the fact that NVIDIA is lagging on A15 adoption and Samsung and Apple turning their backs on Tegra and it doesn't look good for NVIDIA's mobile plans. The one ray of sunshine is that even combined Samsung and Apple do not account for even half of smartphones on the market, so there is still room for NVIDIA and Tegra to grow.
"Nvidia seems to be so far ahead of the curve that they are experiencing problems that are unique in the industry. In their recent year end financial conference call, there was enough said to draw some very grim conclusions.
Today’s conference call was a near complete validation of all the things SemiAccurate has been saying about Nvidia. Remember when we asked if Nvidia could supply Apple? Anyone notice the part about dumping early 28nm capacity, and the disappearance of 28nm Fermi shrinks? Remember how 28nm was not an issue for Nvidia, even if their product roadmap slips said otherwise. How well does this mesh with the quotes from Jen-Hsun himself on the topic?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Danish researchers invent 2nm components @ SemiAccurate
- Space; it’s a junkyard until the Swiss get their way @ Hack a Day
- From encryption to darknets: As governments snoop, activists fight back @ Ars Technica
- Intel to postpone mass shipments of Ivy Bridge processors @ DigiTimes
- Acer expects double ultrabook shipments in 2Q12, improving gross margin each quarter @ DigiTimes
- High Orbits and Slowlorises: understanding the Anonymous attack tools @ Ars Technica
- Samsung SCX-4728FD Multifunctional Printer @ Overclockers Online
- Norton 360 Version 6.0 Review @ TechReviewSource
- CoolerMaster MASSIVE Giveaway @ eTeknix
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 31, 2012 - 05:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tahiti, southern islands, radeon, pcie 3.0, HD 7970, hd 7950, dx 11.1, amd, 28nm
A smattering of reviews of the newly released HD7950 have arrived to the web as the card that many enthusiasts have been waiting for finally arrives. The card does not differ significantly from the HD7970 with 1,792 Stream Processors down from 2,048, 112 Texture Units versus 128, a core clock 125MHz lower at 800MHz and 5GHz effective on memory versus 5.5GHz for the HD7970. Apart from those changes it is still the same silicon and the same 4.31 billion transistors which raises hopes that a similar BIOS mod to the one which allowed you to turn some HD6950s into HD6970s will exist for this card as well. [H]ard|OCP's testing shows the card to be better than a GTX580 but not enough to be an upgrade for current owners of that card but anyone with the ~$450 and an older card would do well to consider this car.
You can also see Ryan's take on this card alone as well as how it scales in CrossFire in our review here.
"The new Radeon HD 7950 marks the launch of AMD's more affordable Radeon HD 7900 series GPU. The Radeon HD 7950 is priced to compete with the GeForce GTX 580. We'll look at performance in comparison to several video cards in single-GPU, dual-GPU CrossFireX, Eyefinity, and Overclocking to see where it truly lands."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon HD 7950 @ The Tech Report
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review Feat. Sapphire & XFX: Sewing Up The High-End Market @ AnandTech
- XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB Graphics Card Video Review @ eTeknix
- XFX Radeon R7950 Black Edition Video Card @ Benchmark Reviews
- XFX & Sapphire HD 7950 3GB Review @ OCC
- XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB @ Tweaktown
- Sapphire 7950 Overclocked Edition Video Card Review @ Techwarelabs
- Sapphire HD 7950 OC @ Modders-Inc
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 & XFX R7950 Black Edition Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- PowerColor, Sapphire, XFX HD 7950 Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB DDR5 Overclocked Version DX11.1 Video Card Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Powercolor HD 7950 PCS+ @ Overclockers.com
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire HD7950 Overclock Edition @ OC3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Launch Articles @ HardwareHeaven
- XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Sapphire HD 7950 Dual Fan OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review; Tahiti Pro Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- XFX HD7950 Black Edition Overlocked @ Kitguru
- PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ 3 GB @ techPowerUp
- XFX R7950 Black Edition @ OC3D
- HIS HD7950 @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB @ techPowerUp
- HIS HD7950 @ OC3D
- XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- HIS Radeon HD 7950 @ Guru of 3D
- PowerColor Radeon HD 7950 PCS+ @ Guru of 3D
- Radeon HD 7950 Crossfire review 2 and 3-way @ Guru of 3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire @ techPowerUp
- Sapphire HD7950 Overlock Edition Crossfire @ Kitguru
- Overkill 3D - HD7950 Quadfire @ OC3D
- XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3 GB Review @ OCC
- The Radeon HD 7970 Reprise: PCIe Bandwidth, Overclocking, & The State Of Anti-Aliasing @ AnandTech
- Catalyst 12.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis @ Tweaktown
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Deepcool Gamer Storm Dracula VGA Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Swiftech Apogee HD Water Block Review @ OCIA
- Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 Review: Quad-Display Budget Card @ Techspot
Tahiti Gets Clipped
It has been just over a month since we first got our hands on the AMD Southern Islands architecture in the form of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card. It was then a couple of long weeks as we waited for the consumer to get the chance to buy that same hardware though we had to admit that the $550+ price tags were scaring many away. Originally we were going to have both the Radeon HD 7970 and the Radeon HD 7950 in our hands before January 9th, but that didn't pan out and instead the little brother was held in waiting a bit longer.
Today we are reviewing that sibling, the Radeon HD 7950 3GB GPU that offers basically the same technology and feature set with a slightly diminished core and a matching, slightly diminished price. In truth I don't think that the estimated MSRP of $449 is going to really capture that many more hearts than the $549 price of the HD 7970 did, but AMD is hoping that they can ride their performance advantage to as many profits as they can while they wait for NVIDIA to properly react.
Check out our video review right here and then continue on to our complete benchmarking analysis!!
Southern Islands Gets Scaled Back a Bit
As I said above, the Radeon HD 7950 3GB is pretty similar to the HD 7970. It is based on the same 28nm, DirectX 11.1, PCI Express 3.0, 4.31 billion transistor GPU and includes the same massive 3GB frame buffer as its older brother. The Tahiti GPU is the first of its kind of all of those facets but it has a few of the computational portions disabled.
If you haven't read up on the Southern Islands architecture, or Tahiti GPU based around it, you are missing quite a bit of important information on the current lineup of parts from AMD. I would very much encourage you to head over to our Radeon HD 7970 3GB Tahiti review and look over the first three pages as it provides a detailed breakdown of the new features and the pretty dramatic shift in design that Southern Islands introduced to the AMD GPU team.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 26, 2012 - 05:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, GCN, asus, southern islands, radeon, pcie 3.0, dx 11.1, amd, 7970, 28nm
[H]ard|OCP recently came out with two HD7970 reviews, one made by ASUS and one by XFX. The ASUS Radeon HD 7970 is currently one of the least expensive choices at $559 and runs at the default speeds of 925MHz and 1375MHz. It does ship with ASUS' GPU Tweak utility to allow for easy overclocking if you wish to push the card like [H] did, in their case to 1125MHz on the GPU core, and 1695MHz GDDR5.
The other choice is the XFX R7970 Black Edition which is a custom card, overclocked to 1GHz on the core and 1425MHz GDDR5 but costs $50 more than the offering from ASUS. At the out of the box speeds, XFX's card both draws less energy and runs much cooler and was silent compared to the ASUS offering. Even after [H] overclocked the card to 1125MHz core and 1575MHz GDDR5, which was the maximum possible using AMD's Overdrive, it was almost silent when running full out.
The decision seems to be how much it is worth to you to have a quiet card and if you are willing to find a way to overclock beyond what the Catalyst Control Center can manage.
"We have the new XFX R7970 Black Edition video card to evaluate, which is XFX's current flagship Radeon HD 7970 based video card. With a custom PCB, custom hardware components and custom cooling fan, will it take us to new heights in overclocking, or leave us wishing we had just purchased a "reference" card?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6670 @ TechwareLab
- Sapphire HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in CrossFire Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- Asus HD7970 Tri Crossfire @ Kitguru
- ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II Top Video Card @ Legit Reviews
- HIS Radeon HD 6570 IceQ @ Funky Kit
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in 3-Way CrossFireX @ Tweaktown
- HIS 6670 1GB Fan @ XSReviews
- ASUS Radeon HD 7970 3GB CrossFire Review @ Legit Reviews
- An Open-Source, Reverse-Engineered Mali GPU Driver @ Phoronix
- Arctic Accelero XTREME Plus II VGA cooler Review @ XtremeComputing
- Graphics Card Overclocking: Is it really worth it? @ TechSpot
- KFA2 MDT X4 – GTX580 @ Kitguru
- Galaxy GeForce GT 440 2GB Review @ Neoseeker
- Galaxy GT 520 MDT Review @ OCC
- Nouveau For A $10 NVIDIA Graphics Card @ Phoronix