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NVIDIA's Tom Petersen "raises the roof" for NVIDIA's new graphics card.  (Source: YouTube/NVIDIA)

The new cards will adopt a vapor chamber design, which will offer quieter, cooler operation.  (Source: YouTube/NVIDIA)

With the cards, NVIDIA will also be pushing multi-layer tesselation as the next big thing in gaming.  (Source: YouTube/NVIDIA)
It's not easy being green, but NVIDIA is preparing its counter-punch to AMD's 6000 series

The second chapter of the DirectX 11 wars may soon be written. 

AMD is in the process of refreshing its 40 nm Evergreen GPUs, with a new family of GPUs dubbed "Northern Islands".  The first Northern Islands hardware -- the Radeon HD 6850 and Radeon HD 6870 -- has launched, belonging to the budget-friendly Barts subfamily.  A dizzying array of other product subfamilies are also reportedly incoming -- Antilles, Caicos, Cayman, Turks, Blackcomb, Seymour and Whistler.  The one to probably keep your eyes on most closely is the Antilles series, AMD's high-performance line.  AMD's aims for single-GPU supremacy rest on the Radeon HD 6990, an Antilles card set to launch before the end of the year.

NVIDIA was late to the gate during the last round, and its numerous 400 series delays ultimately cost it the lead in the discrete graphics market.

This time around NVIDIA hopes to counter AMD, much more quickly as it is reportedly preparing to release the Geforce 500 series, its own 40 nm refresh of the Geforce 400 series. 

A couple of weeks ago NVIDIA briefly posted the name of what will presumably be one of its first discrete GPUs in the lineup -- the Geforce GTX 580.  This week NVIDIA was busy (officially) showing off the new GPU running a nifty multiple tessellation map demo and the new Call of Duty: Black Ops.  It was also revealed during the demonstration that the card has a vapor cooling shroud.

NVIDIA says the new vapor shroud cuts the noise levels by 7 decibels and allows the system to run cooler.  The shroud operates similar to the shrouds Sapphire has used for some time on its AMD Radeon GPUs -- it's basically a sealed liquid cooling system.  A coolant liquid in the shroud circulates over the hot GPU, picking up its thermal energy.  The vaporized liquid travels to the fan, cools off, condenses, and then is recirculated, completely the circle of (cooling shroud) life. 

With the new shroud NVIDIA hopes to end its noise woes, returning to Geforce 200 series levels.  Of course that improvement will likely come at a cost to NVIDIA's bottom line, as vapor shrouds certainly command a premium over traditional coolers.  NVIDIA clearly is still struggling with heating issues, so rather than utilize a noisy, high flow fan like the 400 series, this time around it is opting to pay a bit more for a nicer solution.  Will that be reflected in the price?  We shall see.

When it comes to performance, though, NVIDIA is unequivocal in its belief that it will reign supreme.  At the teaser event, the company's Director of Technical Marketing, Tom Petersen brags, "This is the fastest DirectX 11 GPU on the planet."

If those statements are accurate, and NVIDIA is able to the launch its new models quickly, it stands to regain much ground on AMD, assuming competitive pricing.  Of course NVIDIA was optimistic about launching the 400 series in 2009, but reality eventually became an April 2010 launch, so don't count your GPUs before they hatch. 

NVIDIA is clearly feeling the heat from AMD as its slashing the prices on its mid-range GPUs.  The company writes:
As you are likely writing about the upcoming Radeon 6800 series launch, we felt it was important that you're up to date on the latest GeForce GTX 400 series pricing.
We'd like to inform you of new suggested retail pricing (SEP) for one of our most popular GPUs, the GeForce GTX 460 1GB. The new SEP for the GTX 460 1GB is $199.99. As always, the SEP is just a suggestion and you'll likely find retail boards from our partners at multiple price points. We expect many standard boards to sell in the $180s-$190s, and OC boards to sell for $209+.

In addition to the GeForce GTX 460 1GB, we'd also like to mention new pricing on the GeForce GTX 470. The SEP of this GPU is now $259.99. The GeForce GTX 470 offers more tessellation engines than GTX 460, making it ready for the most demanding DX11 games on the market today, and just as important, the games of tomorrow.
And responding to accusations from AMD that the price cuts were temporary, NVIDIA replies:
Further to our e-mail last night about the GeForce GTX 460 1GB/GTX 470 price adjustment, please rest assured that our price adjustments are in fact permanent. Any claims that our pricing update is temporary are patently false.
So are these price cuts another sign of an impending Geforce 500 launch and the official start of round two of the DirectX 11 wars?  Or are they just a desperation tactic as NVIDIA grapples with a new round of delays?  The answer to that should be apparent in weeks (or months) to come, once we see when the new vapor-equipped Geforce 500 hits the world markets.

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RE: and at $600 so what
By GuinnessKMF on 11/8/2010 10:56:45 AM , Rating: 2
You post as if people will actually not buy it based on price. Some people just don't sneeze at that when it comes to GPU performance.

Keeping the "crown" seems to be nVidia's main goal lately, and I'm sure there will be people to buy them. Sensible buyers will go for a bit more modest of a card, and benefit from these cards eventually, when the prices fall.

RE: and at $600 so what
By mcnabney on 11/8/2010 12:25:57 PM , Rating: 1
$600 will also buy an Xbox 360 and a PS3.

And PC enthusiasts wonder why the market is owned by consoles.

/PC enthusiast

RE: and at $600 so what
By B3an on 11/8/2010 1:05:32 PM , Rating: 5
You get what you pay for. Dont like it? dont be an "enthusiast".

Around $250 will buy you a graphics card thats far more powerful than anything the consoles have.

You dont have to buy expensive cards or CPU's to enjoy better than console graphics.

RE: and at $600 so what
By Bubbacub on 11/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: and at $600 so what
By priusone on 11/8/2010 11:30:27 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, because I hate playing Fallout 3 and New Vegas. A buddy of mine just built a new system and looking at the PS3/360 screen shots vs his is simply amazing. The last system he built was back in 2005 and except for Crysis and a few other games, he had no complaints. His 2005 system has been hacked into a media server and a media center (took his pc and an old one that I had and moved around cards and such). He hates using a controller, as do I, but I still do play with my PSP from time to time.

Sure, there are no more games being made for the Apple IIE, but as far as major companies making games for those of use who enjoy PC gaming, well, I disagree with your 'slow death' concept.

And for the record, my GPU is an HD 4670, which is about as green as GPU can be, unless you would actually consider and Intel GMA a GPU. (Intel GMA not being a GPU = sarcasm)

RE: and at $600 so what
By glennc on 11/9/2010 5:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
fallout3 and vegas are based on a very old gaming engine. you will only see a resolution increase with that game. a better example would be a directx 11 game. just increasing the resolution on an old gaming engine does not improve the experience. i can play the same games on my 50" plasma, with my ass on my couch... now that improves the experience!!!

RE: and at $600 so what
By inighthawki on 11/8/2010 1:59:18 PM , Rating: 2
The problem though is that because all consoles use the same hardware, console games can be far more optimized than PC games, meaning to get the same performance on a PC, you technically need stronger hardware. But I do agree, a $600 card is still way beyond what you would need to accomplish such a task.

RE: and at $600 so what
By omnicronx on 11/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: and at $600 so what
By angryplayer on 11/8/2010 7:15:20 PM , Rating: 5
No no no... Games are being rehashed on the console to milk successes on the PC. The big "blockbuster" titles? COD? MOH? They started on the PC.

RE: and at $600 so what
By michael67 on 11/8/2010 2:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
Don't think you can play games on a console the same way as whit a PC

This is playable whit one 5870, and supreme whit two of them, like to see some one do that on a console ^_^

RE: and at $600 so what
By bhieb on 11/8/2010 4:26:33 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't just post WOW as an example of EXTREME gaming did you? WOW is designed for the masses, and as such, does not require much horsepower. It's made to run on laptops.

Certainly turning up the settings can stress some cards, but it is not really a good game to prove your point.

Now show me Crysis running at full setting on those 3 screens, then I'd be impressed. After all last I heard I've never seen a post that said "But can it play WOW!!"

RE: and at $600 so what
By BZDTemp on 11/8/2010 4:29:49 PM , Rating: 2

When you have a 360, a PS3 (and a Wii and a PSP) then what matters is if the same money can get you something you want/need more.

Also the $600 is cheap compared to what hardware cost just a little while ago. I remember my first 16 bit sound card was $600!

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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