A milquetoast reception to the next generation of GPUs

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, southern islands, kepler, TSMC, 28nm

While most enthusiasts are living up to the name as far as the build up to the coming GPU refreshes from both AMD and NVIDIA is concerned, the manufacturers are quite the opposite.  There are several probable reasons for this attitude, not least of which are the number of HD 6570s and GTS 450s that are still in their stock.  Remember those cards from back in the spring of this year, which were the high end of a huge range of GPUs from both companies spanning $20 to either side of $100?  Think that with the current generation of Llano and SandyBridge that any knowledgeable person is going to purchase one, let alone when you consider how close the release of next generation of APUs is?  The two major players in the discrete GPU market not only updated the top end of their cards quickly over the past several quarters there was a widening of the market which saw current generation cards available from ~$75 to ~$750 with some segments separated by as little as $10.  That translates to huge inventories at the manufacturer level which they then have to convince resellers and retailers to purchase for stock to sell to the consumer and many of those cards are still sitting there collecting dust.  No wonder these same companies are leery of purchasing more stock before finding a way to recover some profit from the stock they have now.

To make things even worse there exist doubts about the 28nm process from TSMC, which DigiTimes discusses here.  While AMD is still claiming delivery of HD7000 family cards before the coming year, the troubles that NVIDIA seems to be having with the same process concerns those who need to be able to buy large volumes of chips in order to turn a profit selling graphics cards.  Even worse is the realization that the first cards NVIDIA will be releasing are simply a die shrink, without architectural changes.  When two companies go to the same source for the same thing and one reports getting apple cider and the other apple vinegar, you really have to start to wonder what is really going on. 


"While Nvidia and AMD are poised to use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 28nm technology to produce the GPUs Kepler and Southern Islands respectively, most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.

Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins."

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Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #173 - Battlefield 3 System Build Guide, RAGE Performance Testing and Issues, Bulldozer updates and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2011 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: rage, podcast, nvidia, kepler, Intel, bulldozer, bf3, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #173 - 10/06/2011

Join us this week as we talk about our Battlefield 3 System Build Guide, RAGE Performance Testing and Issues, Bulldozer updates and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 58:56

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:39 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:53 MSI X370 Review: Fusion Hardware, Ultraportable Chassis
  6. 0:03:05 Battlefield 3 (BF3) System Build Guide - What you need to succeed
    1. Battlefield 3 Beta: Caspian Border Performance and Screenshots
    2. Battlefield 3 (BF3) Beta Performance: Quality Preset and SLI Scaling
  7. 0:16:10 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:17:12 RAGE Performance and Image Quality Evaluation - Day 1
    1. PC Gamers Rage Over Numerous RAGE Issues
  9. 0:31:30 Panel Self Refresh; a new way to save power
  10. 0:36:11 AMD Bulldozer FX CPUs dated: October 12th. Shhh.
  11. 0:37:01 AMD Bulldozer FX Processor Benchmarks Leaked
  12. 0:41:15 More confirmation, NVIDIA is leading the 600 series with mobile chips 
  13. 0:44:05 Just Delivered: Asus HD 6770 DirectCU Silent
  14. 0:47:38 OCZ Technology Acquires UK Design Team from PLX Technology
  15. 0:49:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Join me at GeForce LAN in Oakland!!
    2. Jeremy: Buy RIM, please!
    3. Josh: I have one, and I like it:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835209049
    4. Allyn: power-over-esata to (22 pin) sata cables, cheap: here
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing


More confirmation, NVIDIA is leading the 600 series with mobile chips

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2011 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK107, GeForce 610M, GT 630M

VR-Zone spotted a string in the newest beta drivers from NVIDIA listing two new models of GPU, the NVIDIA GeForce 610M and GT 630M.  From other rumours that we have collected from a variety of sources around the web we are fairly certain that these chips will be based on GK107, the low power version of the chip everyone wants to see, the GK100.  While we are used to seeing both AMD and Intel to lead with mid to low range chips to simultaneously start off a new process size and chip family, NVIDIA doing so raises some eyebrows.  NVIDIA's mobile graphics chips have to compete directly with the graphics portion of AMD and Intel's APUs and do so in a market where like it or not, you have already paid for the GPU portion of your processor.  There will not only have to be an increase in performance, it will also have to justify the extra investment.  We shall see what the final answer is early in 2012.


"In the latest unreleased 285 BETA drivers, the expected GeForce 600 branding has surfaced. The marketing names leaked are NVIDIA GeForce 610M and NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M. The GeForce 610M is likely to be an entry level GPU while the GeForce GT 630M could very well be a GK107 SKU."

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Source: VR-Zone

It's confirmed, NVIDIA won't be leading with the big Kepler

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2011 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK107

As SemiAccurate reported back on the 21st, Kepler will be arriving in the form of a bottom to top release, not the top down that many enthusiasts were hoping for.  The reason for this is a popular topic of speculation, the most likely suspect being that this is not only a process change, to 28nm; it is also an architecture refresh and pulling off both of those together is a tricky proposition at the best of times.  VR-Zone also provides insight into the code names, with the P suffix indicating a lower powered chip, likely a replacement to the GT 500M while the E suffix denotes an enthusiast mobile chip more in line with what the GTX600M is currently.  More spoilers available in their post.


"GK107 is set to feature in four mobile GeForce SKUs - N13P-LP, N13P-GS, N13P-GT and N13E-GE. If these codenames sound familiar, it is because they have previously appeared in a leaked 28nm mobile GPU line-up. GK107 features a 128-bit memory interface, and supports DDR3 and GDDR5 memory. The first three GK107 based SKUs (with a "P" suffix) will likely succeed the GeForce GT 500M series, and will presumably be branded GeForce GT 600M series. The top GK107 part, N13E-GE, may succeed GTX 560M and be part of the GTX 600M series, as denoted by the "E" suffix (Enthusiast). In addition, GK107 will also be part of mobile Quadro SKUs - N14P-Q1 and N14P-Q3."

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Source: VR-Zone

Kepler has arrived ... sort of

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2011 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK117, GK107

The news on the street is that two chips from NVIDIA's Kepler lineup should be arriving relatively soon, but don't get too excited.  The GK117 will be a hybrid Fermi/Kepler card, not a GPU but perhaps a powerful addition to any render farm or other application which can benefit the new architecture.  It could also just be a test chip the NVIDIA created to test the integration capabilities of the two architectures.  The GK107 seems to likely be a mobile part, something SemiAccurate dismisses quickly as it will have to compete with the integrated GPUs present in both AMD and Intel mobile chips. 

There is no sign of the Kepler everyone is waiting for, the GPU that will power NVIDIA's next generation of graphics cards.  Why haven't we seen any sign of it yet?  Drop by SemiAccurate for speculation on some of the possible reasons.


"Nvidia has two Kepler parts taped out and likely back in house by now. They are however, not the fire-breathing big chips you would expect.

Sources tell SemiAccurate that the first Kepler chips taped out about three months after the first 28nm Fermi shrink taped out. If you remember when we exclusively told you about the dates on those about a month ago, now there are a few more details to add."

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Source: SemiAccurate

We now know about NVIDIA's New Years presents

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2011 - 11:09 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, fermi, kepler, leak

There is good news and bad news out of SemiAccurate about NVIDIA today.  The bad news is that the chips are all Fermi, they have simply been shrunk to 28nm from 40nm.  That makes the idea of mobile variants arriving first very probable with the respectably low TDP shown on the leaked chart.  There at the bottom, in the row with the most question marks are the higher powered chips.   The good news is that the list is incomplete, there is more in store for consumers in the same time frame.  They will likely be 40nm but they will definitely not be Kepler chips.


"What does Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) have coming up for the post-Christmas GPU line? You have heard a lot about the 28nm parts, and here is what you will be seeing.

The short story is this, Nvidia is putting out a bunch of Fermi shrinks on 28nm, and you will likely see the mobile variants first. They are as follows, with some information a bit blurred to protect the exact sub-species of mole involved."

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Source: SemiAccurate

As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, 28nm, kepler, maxwell

TSMC's 28nm wafer yields are having a negative effect on NVIDIA's scheduled release of their next generation of GPUs, no matter what the PR coming out of NVIDIA might suggest.  That news is coming from graphics card manufacturers who were hoping to release cards but have since seen NVIDIA's scheduled releases delayed by a year.  While it may be true that TSMC is partly to blame for the delay there is also talk about the chips performance being lower than was expected and is needed to challenge AMD.  The news for NVIDIA gets even worse as DigiTimes confirms that AMD is still on schedule with it's 28nm chips.  This may seem like a bit of deja vu, as we saw similar production problems from TSMC's initial 40nm chips; though that effected both major GPU makers more or less equally.

nvidia jensen.jpg

"Despite Nvidia CEO Huang Jen-hsun previously saying that the company is set to announce its new 28nm GPU architecture at the end of 2011 and 22/20nm in 2013, sources from graphics card makers have pointed out that Nvidia has already adjusted its roadmap and delayed 28nm Kepler and 22/20nm Maxwell to 2012 and 2014.

The sources believe that the delay is due to unsatisfactory yield rates of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm process as well as lower-than-expected performance of Kepler.

TSMC originally expected its 28nm capacity at Fab15 to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was set to start pilot production for its 20nm process technology in the third quarter of 2012.

However, TSMC's other major client Qualcomm, currently, still has not yet adjusted its 28nm process schedule and is set to launch three new products, 8960. 8270 and 8260A using dual-core Krait architecture in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, AMD will follow its original schedule and enter the 28nm era in the first half of 2012. The company's next-generation graphics chips Southern Island as well as Krishna and Wichita processors, which will replace the existing Ontraio and Zacate processors, and will all adopt a 28nm process from TSMC."

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Source: DigiTimes

Always someone to ruin the parade, NVIDIA's response to AMD's Southern Island news

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2011 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: southern islands, parade, nvidia, kepler, fermi, amd

As is common in the industry, when one company releases news their competitors have to do something to distract people.  Since in this case it was AMD's announcement of the Southern Islands release, it is NVIDIA who feels the need to hold a competing spectacle.  In this case it was news that their new Fermi based 28nm Kepler GPU has taped out ... maybe.  In this particular scenario we have an intentional leak from NVIDIA which was light on details and heavy on spin.  SemiAccurate takes a long look at some of NVIDIA's claims, from the doubling of transistors with no cost in TDP to the probable difference between Tesla branded Fermi and GeForce branded Fermi cards to NVIDIA's claims that switching from 40nm to 28nm is hard and that it is all TSMC's fault. 


"When SemiAccurate announced that AMD (NYSE:AMD) was aiming for September with Southern Islands (SI), you could almost set your watch to the Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) response. If you are new to the PR game, you will probably scratch your head wondering what we mean by Nvidia response, officially there is silence, but there definitely was a response."

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Source: SemiAccurate