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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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two questions
By Saist on 11/8/2010 1:13:16 PM , Rating: 4
I have two questions for Nvidia, although I suspect they would not be answered even if somebody from Nvidia cared to answer them.

First: Is this new graphics card going to be profitable?

Thing is, Nvidia was having to wrap the equivalent of a $20 bill around the chips used in the GTX 200 series cards. The physical manufacturing cost of the chip and the card itself to support that chip were heavily in excess of the cost of producing an AMD design with similar rendering through-put. With the GTX 470 it is now said that Nvidia is wrapping the equivalent of a $50 bill around each chip, and the new prices on the GTX 460 are forcing Nvidia to take a hit there to.

So, is this new chip actually going to be profitable? Will Nvidia be able to sell this chip to board vendors, and will they be able to make a video card out of that chip that is price competitive with AMD designs, without having to cut component quality or forcing Nvidia into bankruptcy?

Second: Is this chip thermal efficient?

The big question. Nvidia is vending off multiple class-action lawsuits and is suffering from vendor ire over several harmful business practices, such as failing to disclose any particular chip's real thermal properties. The GTX 480 and GTX 470 followed in the trend of Nvidia, consuming in-ordinate amounts of power, putting off loads of heat, and very much like a smoke bomb, not actually doing anything in the process. Performance per Watt, a popular metric for the energy conscious, put Nvidia's first Fermi attempts at well... um... Actually I think the only processor that ran hotter and used more power while giving less performance was perhaps the Pentium 4 Prescott.

So, is this new chip carry the Nvidia trend of the past however many years? Does it use far more power and put off far more heat to only slightly edge out it's competitor's products on paper?

The reality is, in actual games, on any given processor, the GTX 470 wouldn't buy gamers any performance advantages over a RadeonHD 5850. The GTX 480 wouldn't actually buy gamers any performance advantage over a 5870. In consumer terms the GTX 470 and GTX 480 were, and are, rip-offs . Nvidia's issue is that the Halo Effect doesn't exist. The vast majority of consumers don't buy any particular brand because that brand has the fastest Ultimate Card. Intel's dominance in terms of graphics solutions sold is ample evidence of this.

AMD has increased their marketshare not on the basis of having the worlds fastest graphics card that consumers can buy. AMD has increased their marketshare by having the fastest graphics cards for any given price point, being honest with vendors about their chips thermal properties and power consumption, and by helping Vendors implement product-neutral graphics solutions.

The concern with Nvidia's "new" chip is that it will follow in the original Fermi model. The concern is that Nvidia itself will follow the trends they, as a company, have set.

The bad news for everybody else is that Nvidia's corporate behavior is why the company is facing lawsuits, and possibly won't exist as the consumer graphics card vendor as early as next year.




RE: two questions
By smookyolo on 11/8/2010 1:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
"The GTX 480 and GTX 470 followed in the trend of Nvidia, consuming in-ordinate amounts of power, putting off loads of heat, and very much like a smoke bomb, not actually doing anything in the process."

My 470 takes no more than 250w, and maxes at about 80c at maximum usage, fan at about 60% (barely audible). It also performs slightly better than my friend's 5870, and we both have similar CPUS/RAM. And the compute performance is much better than the 5870.

You don't even cite a single reference or anything at all. Did you actually read up on anything?

A lot of people on sites such as newegg constantly give reviews stating that their 470 gets temps of over 95c, I'd be willing to bet that the case has inadequate airflow.


RE: two questions
By Donkey2008 on 11/9/2010 6:32:09 AM , Rating: 2
I will have to agree that the temps that I have seen recorded for the GTX 470 in various web reviews seem way higher than what I actually experience. With the reference cooler while gaming for hours on end, my 470 never tops 83C load or 40C idle in an Antec 900 Two case, with no side fan. For reference, my previous 4890 topped at 78C load and 60C idle.

If I end up paying a few more dollars more in electricity every year because I own Nvidia, it doesn't bother me as long as the end experience is good. From my limited time with the 470, it seems that all of the crazy myths about needing a nuclear reactor to run it are exagerated and there is no fire spewing out of the back of my case. The heat output and noise level is about the same as all of my previous cards - X1950, 8800 GTS, 4850 and 4890.

My 2 cents.


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