Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A new GPU, a familiar problem

Editor's Note: Don't forget to join us today for a live streaming event featuring Ryan Shrout and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss the new GeForce GTX 960. It will be live at 1pm ET / 10am PT and will include ten (10!) GTX 960 prizes for participants! You can find it all at http://www.pcper.com/live

There are no secrets anymore. Calling today's release of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 a surprise would be like calling another Avenger's movie unexpected. If you didn't just assume it was coming chances are the dozens of leaks of slides and performance would get your attention. So here it is, today's the day, NVIDIA finally upgrades the mainstream segment that was being fed by the GTX 760 for more than a year and half. But does the brand new GTX 960 based on Maxwell move the needle?

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But as you'll soon see, the GeForce GTX 960 is a bit of an odd duck in terms of new GPU releases. As we have seen several times in the last year or two with a stagnant process technology landscape, the new cards aren't going be wildly better performing than the current cards from either NVIDIA for AMD. In fact, there are some interesting comparisons to make that may surprise fans of both parties.

The good news is that Maxwell and the GM206 GPU will price out starting at $199 including overclocked models at that level. But to understand what makes it different than the GM204 part we first need to dive a bit into the GM206 GPU and how it matches up with NVIDIA's "small" GPU strategy of the past few years.

The GM206 GPU - Generational Complexity

First and foremost, the GTX 960 is based on the exact same Maxwell architecture as the GTX 970 and GTX 980. The power efficiency, the improved memory bus compression and new features all make their way into the smaller version of Maxwell selling for $199 as of today. If you missed the discussion on those new features including MFAA, Dynamic Super Resolution, VXGI you should read that page of our original GTX 980 and GTX 970 story from last September for a bit of context; these are important aspects of Maxwell and the new GM206.

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NVIDIA's GM206 is essentially half of the full GM204 GPU that you find on the GTX 980. That includes 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture units and 32 ROPs for processing, a 128-bit memory bus and 2GB of graphics memory. This results in half of the memory bandwidth at 112 GB/s and half of the peak compute capability at 2.30 TFLOPS.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB Graphics Card!!

Graphics Developers: Help Name Next Generation OpenGL

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 16, 2015 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: Khronos, opengl, OpenGL ES, webgl, OpenGL Next

The Khornos Group probably wants some advice from graphics developers because they ultimately want to market to them, as the future platform's success depends on their applications. If you develop games or other software (web browsers?) then you can give your feedback. If not, then it's probably best to leave responses to its target demographic.

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As for the questions themselves, first and foremost they ask if you are (or were) an active software developer. From there, they ask you to score your opinion on OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL. They then ask whether you value “Open” or “GL” in the title. They then ask you whether you feel like OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL are related APIs. They ask how you learn about the Khronos APIs. Finally, they directly ask you for name suggestions and any final commentary.

Now it is time to (metaphorically) read tea leaves. The survey seems written primarily to establish whether developers consider OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL as related libraries, and to gauge their overall interest in each. If you look at the way OpenGL ES has been developing, it has slowly brought mobile graphics into a subset of desktop GPU features. It is basically an on-ramp to full OpenGL.

We expect that, like Mantle and DirectX 12, the next OpenGL initiative will be designed around efficiently loading massively parallel processors, with a little bit of fixed-function hardware for common tasks, like rasterizing triangles into fragments. The name survey might be implying that the Next Generation OpenGL Initiative is intended to be a unified platform, for high-end, mobile, and even web. Again, modern graphics APIs are based on loading massively parallel processors as directly as possible.

If you are a graphics developer, the Khronos Group is asking for your feedback via their survey.

Report: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Specs and Synthetic Benchmarks Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 14, 2015 - 10:49 AM |
Tagged: rumors, NVIDA, leak, gtx 960, gpu, geforce

The GPU news and rumor site VideoCardz.com had yet another post about the GTX 960 yesterday, and this time the site claims they have most of the details about this unreleased GPU with new leaked photos from a forum on the Chinese site PCEVA.

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Image credit: PCEVA via VideoCardz.com

The card is reportedly based on Maxwell GM206, a 1024 CUDA core part recently announced with the introduction of the GTX 965M. Clock speed was not listed but alleged screenshots indicate the sample had a 1228 MHz core and 1291 MHz Boost clock. The site is calling this an overclock, but it's still likely that the core would have a faster clock speed than the GTX 970 and 980.

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Image credit: PCEVA via VideoCardz.com

The card will reportedly feature 2GB of 128-bit GDDR5 memory, though doubtless 4GB variants would likely be available after launch from the various vendors (an important option considering the possibility of the new card natively supporting triple DisplayPort monitors). Performance will clearly be a step down from the initial GTX 900-series offerings as NVIDIA has led with their more performant parts, but the 960 should still be a solid choice for 1080p gaming if these screenshots are real.

The specs as listed on the page at VideoCardz.com are follows (they do not list clock speed):

  • 28nm GM206-300 GPU
  • 1024 CUDA cores
  • 64(?) TMUs
  • 32 ROPs
  • 1753 MHz memory
  • 128-bit memory bus
  • 2GB memory size
  • 112 GB/s memory bandwidth
  • DirectX 11.3/12
  • 120W TDP
  • 1x 6-pin power connector
  • 1x DVI-I, 1x HDMI 2.0, 3x DP

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Image credit: PCEVA via VideoCardz.com

We await official word on pricing and availability for this unreleased GPU.

Source: VideoCardz

More NVIDIA GTX 960 Sightings: Galaxy's KFA2 GTX 960 Lineup Reportedly Pictured

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 13, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: rumors, nvidia, multi monitor, mini-ITX GPU, leak, HDMI 2.0, gtx 960, gpu, geforce, DisplayPort

The crew at VideoCardz.com have been reporting some GTX 960 sightings lately, and today they've added no less than three new cards from KFA2, the "European premium brand" of Galaxy.

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The reported reference design GTX 960 (VideoCardz.com)

Such reports are becoming more common, with the site posting photos that appear to be other vendors' versions of the new GPU here, here, and here. Of note with these new alleged photos on what appears to be a reference design board: no less than three DisplayPort outputs, as well as HDMI 2.0 and DVI:

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Reported GTX 960 outputs (VideoCardz.com)

This would be big news for multi-monitor users as it would provide potential support three high-resolution DisplayPort monitors from a single card in a strictly non-gaming environment (unless you happen to enjoy the frame-rates of an oil painting).

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The reported mini-ITX GTX 960 (VideoCardz.com)

The other designs shown in the post include a mini-ITX form-factor design still sporting the triple DisplayPorts, HDMI and DVI, and a larger EXOC edition built on a custom PCB.

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Reported EXOC GTX 960 (VideoCardz.com)

The EXOC edition apparently drops the multi-DisplayPort option in favor of a second DVI output, leaving just one DisplayPort along with the lone HDMI 2.0 output.

With the GTX 960 leaks coming in daily now it seems likely that we would be hearing something official soon.

Source: VideoCardz

LinkedIn Posts Hint at Radeon R9 380X Features, Stacked Memory

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 13, 2015 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: rumor, radeon, r9 380x, 380x

Spotted over at TechReport.com this morning and sourced from a post at 3dcenter.org, it appears that some additional information about the future Radeon R9 380X is starting to leak out through AMD employee LinkedIn pages.

Ilana Shternshain is a ASIC physical design engineer at AMD with more than 18 years of experience, 7-8 years of that with AMD. Under the background section is the line "Backend engineer and team leader at Intel and AMD, responsible for taping out state of the art products like Intel Pentium Processor with MMX technology and AMD R9 290X and 380X GPUs." A bit further down is an experience listing of the Playstation 4 APU as well as "AMD R9 380X GPUs (largest in “King of the hill” line of products)."

Interesting - though not entirely enlightening. More interesting were the details found on Linglan Zhang's LinkedIn page (since removed):

Developed the world’s first 300W 2.5D discrete GPU SOC using stacked die High Bandwidth Memory and silicon interposer.

Now we have something to work with! A 300 watt TDP would make the R9 380X more power hungry than the current R9 290X Hawaii GPU. High bandwidth memory likely implies memory located on the substrate of the GPU itself, similar to what exists on the Xbox One APU, though configurations could differ in considerable ways. A bit of research on the silicon interposer reveals it as an implementation method for 2.5D chips:

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Source: SemiWiki.com

There are two classes of true 3D chips which are being developed today. The first is known as 2½D where a so-called silicon interposer is created. The interposer does not contain any active transistors, only interconnect (and perhaps decoupling capacitors), thus avoiding the issue of threshold shift mentioned above. The chips are attached to the interposer by flipping them so that the active chips do not require any TSVs to be created. True 3D chips have TSVs going through active chips and, in the future, have potential to be stacked several die high (first for low-power memories where the heat and power distribution issues are less critical).

An interposer would allow the GPU and stacked die memory to be built on different process technology, for example, but could also make the chips more fragile during final assembly. Obviously there a lot more questions than answers based on these rumors sourced from LinkedIn, but it's interesting to attempt to gauge where AMD is headed in its continued quest to take back market share from NVIDIA.

Source: 3dcenter.org

CES 2015: EVGA Shows Two New GTX 980 Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: video, maxwell, Kingpin, hydro copper, GTX 980, GM204, evga, classified, ces 2015, CES

EVGA posted up in its normal location at CES this year and had its entire lineup of goodies on display. There were a pair of new graphics cards we spotted too including the GTX 980 Hydro Copper and the GTX 980 Classified Kingpin Edition.

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Though we have seen EVGA water cooling on the GTX 980 already, the new GTX 980 Hydro Copper uses a self-contained water cooler, built by Asetek, rather than a complete GPU water block. The memory and power delivery is cooled by the rest of the original heatsink and blower fan but because of lowered GPU temperatures, the fan will nearly always spin at its lowest RPM.

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Speaking of temperatures, EVGA is saying that GPU load temperatures will be in the 40-50C range, significantly lower than what you have with even the best air coolers on the GTX 980 today. As for users that already have GTX 980 cards, EVGA is planning to sell the water cooler individually so you can upgrade yourself. Pricing isn't set on this but it should be available sometime in February.

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Fans of the EVGA Classified Kingpin series will be glad to know that the GTX 980 iteration is nearly ready, also available in February and also without an known MSRP.

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EVGA has included an additional 6-pin power connector, rearranged the memory traces and layout for added memory frequency and includes a single-slot bracket for any users that eventually remove the impressive air cooler for a full-on water block.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

NVIDIA Quietly Releases the GeForce GTX 965M Mobile GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 7, 2015 - 10:51 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebook, mobile graphics, mobile gpu, GeForce 965M

With zero fanfare NVIDIA has released a new mobile graphics chip today, the GeForce GTX 965M.

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Based on the 28nm Maxwell GM204 core and positioned just below the existing GTX 970M, the new GTX 965M has 1024 CUDA cores (compared to the 970M's 1280) and the new 965M has a lower 128-bit memory interface (vs 192-bit with the 970M). The base clock is slightly faster at 944 MHz (plus unspecified Boost headroom).

Compared with the flagship GTX 980M which boasts 1536 CUDA cores and 256-bit GDDR5 this new GTX 965M will be a significantly lower performer, but NVIDIA is marketing it towards 1080p mobile gaming. At a lower cost to OEMs the 965M should help create some less expensive 1080p gaming notebooks as the new GPU is adopted.

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The chip features proprietary NVIDIA Optimus and Battery Boost support, and is GameStream, ShadowPlay, and GameWorks ready.


Specs from NVIDIA:

  • CUDA Cores: 1024
  • Base Clock: 944 MHz + Boost
  • Memory Clock: 2500 MHz
  • Memory Interface: GDDR5
  • Memory Interface Width: 128-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 80 GB/sec
  • DirectX API: 12
  • OpenGL: 4.4
  • OpenCL: 1.1
  • Display Resolution: Up to 3840x2160

More information on this new mobile GPU can be found via the source link.

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2015: AMD Talks Technical about FreeSync Monitors

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: video, radeon, monitor, g-sync, freesync, ces 2015, CES, amd

It finally happened - later than I had expected - we got to get hands on with nearly-ready FreeSync monitors! That's right, AMD's alternative to G-Sync will bring variable refresh gaming technology to Radeon gamers later this quarter and AMD had the monitors on hand to prove it. On display was an LG 34UM67 running at 2560x1080 on IPS technology, a Samsung UE590 with a 4K resolution and AHVA panel and BenQ XL2730Z 2560x1440 TN screen.

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The three monitors sampled at the AMD booth showcase the wide array of units that will be available this year using FreeSync, possibly even in this quarter. The LG 34UM67 uses the 21:9 aspect ratio that is growing in popularity, along with solid IPS panel technology and 60 Hz top frequency. However, there is a new specification to be concerned with on FreeSync as well: minimum frequency. This is the refresh rate that monitor needs to maintain to avoid artifacting and flickering that would be visible to the end user. For the LG monitor it was 40 Hz.

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What happens below that limit and above it differs from what NVIDIA has decided to do. For FreeSync (and the Adaptive Sync standard as a whole), when a game renders at a frame rate above or below this VRR window, the V-Sync setting is enforced. That means on a 60 Hz panel, if your game runs at 70 FPS, then you will have the option to enable or disable V-Sync; you can either force a 60 FPS top limit or allow 70 FPS with screen tearing. If your game runs under the 40 Hz bottom limit, say at 30 FPS, you get the same option: V-Sync on or V-Sync off. With it off, you would get tearing but optimal input/display latency but with it off you would reintroduce frame judder when you cross between V-Sync steps.

There are potential pitfalls to this solution though; what happens when you cross into that top or bottom region can cause issues depending on the specific implementation. We'll be researching this very soon.

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Notice this screen shows FreeSync Enabled and V-Sync Disabled, and we see a tear.

FreeSync monitors have the benefit of using industry standard scalers and that means they won't be limited to a single DisplayPort input. Expect to see a range of inputs including HDMI and DVI though the VRR technology will only work on DP.

We have much more to learn and much more to experience with FreeSync but we are eager to get one in the office for testing. I know, I know, we say that quite often it seems.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: EVGA Teases New NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 with AIO Liquid Cooling

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 6, 2015 - 11:30 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, liquid cooler, GTX 980, gpu cooler, gpu, evga, ces 2015, CES, AIO

EVGA has posted a photo on Twitter of a new GTX 980 with an integrated AIO liquid cooler.

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The pic is captioned "GTX 980 HC AIO", which indicates that it will join the EVGA GTX 980 Hydro Copper (which carries an MSRP as $799) as a liquid-cooled option in their lineup. The big advantage here, however, is that AIO setup dangling off the back of the card. One free (120mm?) fan opening is all you'd need to be up and running without any extra work.

Of course, you could always buy yourself a suitcase full of AIO liquid-cooled GTX 980's for a cool $2999 if you don't want to wait for this EVGA option.

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Triple SLI + AIO liquid cooling = suitcase?

We'll post news of this (seemingly) upcoming EVGA product once details are revealed.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Twitter

Report: NVIDIA Maxwell GM206 Pictured - Leak Claims GTX 960 Core

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 6, 2015 - 09:44 AM |
Tagged: rumor, nvidia, leak, gtx 960, GM206, geforce

VideoCardz.com is reporting that they not only know the upcoming GTX 960 core will be the GM206, but they reportedly have a photo of the unreleased chip.

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Why are reported leaks always slightly out of focus? (Credit: VideoCardz.com)

The chip pictured appears to be a GM206-300, which the site claims will be the exact variant in the GTX 960 when it is released. The post speculates that based on the die size we can expect between 8 - 10 SMM's, or 1080 - 1280 CUDA cores. They further claim that the GTX 960 will have a 128-bit memory bus and reference cards will have a 2GB frame buffer (though naturally we can expect models with 4GB of memory after launch).

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(Credit: VideoCardz.com)

The post goes on to show what appears to be a search result for an ASUS GTX 960 on their site, but if this existed it has since been taken down. More than likely a GTX 960 is in fact close at hand, and the reported specs (and now multiple claimed listings for the card) are not hard to fathom.

We will keep you updated on this alleged new GPU if more details emerge.