According to our sources, NVIDIA was delighted with the yields achieved by the 28nm GK104 (Kepler) chip, that they decided to launch not one, but two high-end SKUs before they start releasing value parts.
The word on the street was that NVIDIA worked on GTX 680 and GTX 690 since third quarter of 2012, and once the work was done on the GTX 680 – the company pulled no stops to make GTX 690 the highest performing single slot dual-GPU card. However, even with high yield of fully enabled GK104 chips enabling the launch of GTX 680 (which are in constant shortage sans one AIB that allegedly has an exclusive deal for some markets), there is a lot of 3.5 billion transistor chips which aren't performing up to par.
In order to address those chips, NVIDIA will launch not one, but two cut-down versions of the GK104 chip: the Geforce GTX 660 (or 660 Ti) and GTX 670 (or 670 Ti). According to WCCFTech, the GK104-335-A2 will power the GTX 670, while GTX 660 may be powered by another revision. Given the way NVIDIA labels the GPUs, we would not be surprised if some of NV partners are in a lot of hot water, since NVIDIA typically uses three-number customer codes (GX1XX-XXX-AX).
GeForce GTX 670 should feature 1344 CUDA cores, same uncut 256-bit memory controller and paltry 2GB GDDR5 memory. The clocks should be set at around 915-950MHz for the GPU, and 1.25GHz QDR for video memory, resulting in 156GB/s of video memory bandwidth. Estimated price for the part should be around $399-429, going head to head against the Radeon HD 7950.
GeForce GTX 660 would be a different bird, with no less than whole GPC (Graphics Processing Cluster) disabled , resulting with 1152 CUDA codes. Memory bus would be cut to 192-bit, meaning again – the odd combination of either 768MB or 1.5GB. Given that it's 2012, we don't see anyone launching a product with 768MB of video memory. This part should go for $199-249, targeting AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series (Pitcairn GPUs).
The pricing structure would leave a pretty large hole between $249 and $399, but so is the performance difference between the two. That room is left to the partners to come up with overclocked cards, liquid cooled products, multiple memory configurations etc. According to our sources, don't expect GK107 to come to desktop anytime soon – all the allocated volume goes into laptops and Ultrabooks.
NVIDIA pricing structure (for now), should look as follows:
- $999 – GTX 690 4GB
- $579 – GTX 680 4GB OC (Preferred AIB Pricing)
- $499 – GTX 680 2GB
- $479 – GTX 670 4GB (Preferred AIB Pricing)
- $399 – GTX 670 2GB
- $249 – GTX 660 (Ti?) 1.5GB
Products are expected to be formally announced next week, with mass availability and custom designs by Computex Taipei 2012, which is scheduled to take place between June 5-9 at World Trade Center and Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.