With AMD’s Radeon HD 6000 series just around the corner, rumours about Nvidia’s response has been filling the internet. SemiAccurate reports that Nvidia is preparing to paper-launch the GTX 580 next month, to counter AMD’s release of Cayman / HD 6900. The actual cards, however, will only be available in January/February 2011. Codenamed GF110, the GTX 580 is rumoured to be only a mildly updated version of the GF100, and significant improvements are not expected (unlike the Radeon HD 6000 series).

More next page…

With AMD’s Radeon HD 6000 series just around the corner, rumours about
Nvidia’s response has been filling the internet. SemiAccurate reports
that Nvidia is preparing to paper-launch the GTX 580 next month, to
counter AMD’s release of Cayman / HD 6900. The actual cards, however,
will only be available in January/February 2011. Codenamed GF110, the
GTX 580 is rumoured to be only a mildly updated version of the GF100,
and significant improvements are not expected (unlike the Radeon HD 6000
series).

While AMD has had an entire year to prepare the Radeon HD 6000 series, Nvidia’s GeForce 400 series was completed only earlier this month, and the top GF100 part has been around for just over 6 months. The GF100 chip was initially envisioned as a 750 MHz 512 SP product. Unfortunately, till date, the highest performing GF100, GTX 480, clocks in at below the targets – 700 MHz and 480 SP. Responding to criticism of excessive power and thermal requirements, Nvidia has done a fine job vastly improving performance/watt with the GF104 chip. It is likely Nvidia is going to base the GF110 on the GF104 arrangement. With some luck, the GF110, or the GTX 580, will hit the original 512 SP spec at higher clocks. This could bring about a ~20% improvement on the GTX 480, with better power consumption characteristics.

Unfortunately, even the GF104 – the most efficient GF10x chip – was significantly trailing AMD’s Radeon HD 5000 series in performance-per-watt and performance-per-mm2, never mind the HD 6000 generation. We still haven’t seen a fully enabled GF104 chip either. Nvidia simply haven’t had enough time to repair most of GF100′s flaws, as AMD has been setting a breakneck pace in generational upgrades. A ~20% improvement, thus, will serve as a reasonable improvement given the circumstance. Whether it would be enough to catch up to AMD’s Radeon HD 6000 series remains to be seen.

The concept of a paper-launch well before actual availability will surely not go down well with the tech community. But then, Nvidia has never been far from controversy in recent times. If it does happen in November, Nvidia’s obviously trying to get buyers to wait for the GTX 580 series instead of the Radeon HD 6900. Unfortunately, consumers are by now wary of Nvidia’s recent launch delays, and are unlikely to hold their breath. That said, things have improved a great deal since the GF104 launch.

It may not be a major improvement, but if Nvidia sticks to its Jan/Feb 2011 release date, they must be commended for improving the thoroughly underwhelming GF100 card in less than 9 months. Following the GF110, we can expect more derivatives. Some of the codenames being thrown around are GF112/4/9. Nvidia’s real next-gen comes in late 2011 in the form of Kepler at 28nm. Till then, Nvidia’s main objective will be to stay in touch with AMD.

Reference: SemiAccurate