From the first leaked images, the upcoming GeForce GTX 670 will not be a cut down version of GTX 680. Think of it as a half of GTX 690. In the past, traditional mode would be to release the high-end card first, the faulty dies (with logic units disabled) following close second, second revision of silicon would bring a dual-GPU card and that was the high-end lineup. Good example is GTX 280-270-260-295-285-260-216-275 cadence, or in case of AMD – HD 6970-6950-6930-6990.

With Kepler, the cadence turned upside down. The development process changed with the Kepler architecture, and NVIDIA’s PCB engineers had a lot of time on their hands to build multiple products based on a single GPU. The company was building GK104, GK107 and GK110 parts at the same time, with GK104 carrying the desktop banner, GK107 winning mobile design wins and GK110 being a seven billion transistor monster that will power Tesla cards first, then Quadro and ultimately, highest-of-all-ends GeForce GTX (685? 695?).

This new cadence means – launching three distinctive ASICs in a single quarter with not one, but multiple designs. When it comes to the current flag carrier, the GK104 – the GPU powers GeForce GTX 680 and dual-GPU GTX 690. If our sources are correct, GeForce GTX 670 will be released very, very soon (read, days and weeks) and the board brings a lot of changes.

According to what seems to be a retracted story from OBR-Hardware and still available images on Chinese VR-Zone and pcINlife, we have received the very first pictures and benchmarks of the GeForce GTX 670 from Colorful, NVIDIA’s premium AIB (Add-In Board) vendor from mainland China.

GeForce GTX 670. You have to admit it doesn't look any different when compared to GTX 680...
GeForce GTX 670. You have to admit it doesn’t look any different when compared to GTX 680…

For starters, on the image above you can see that the board shares similar, if not the same size as GeForce GTX 680, and first reaction could be "ah, GTX 680 PCB, disable one SMX cluster i.e. 192 units and sell it away", but the image below paints a very different picture:

... huh, what happened? Did someone cut the GTX 680 in half? This is a $399 board?
… huh, what happened? Did someone cut the GTX 680 in half? This is a $399 board?

That’s right, the board is practically cut in half. Two power connectors are essentially lined up with at the opposite side of PCI Express connector, which is something we haven’t seen since Radeon HD 6990 (and it was a single 8-pin connector then). Look at the PCB in front reveals what’s all about.

GeForce GTX 670 in nude...
GeForce GTX 670 in nude… note that the board explicitly supports 2GB and 4GB memory configurations.

What you are looking effectively is one half of GTX 690 board, and by going this route, the company is saving a lot of money in BOM (Bill of Materials) cost. The power supply components, rear connectors, memory – nothing changed from the GTX 680 and 690. Bear in mind this part is supposed to go against the Radeon HD 7950 3GB, while GeForce GTX 670 will be available in variants of 2 and 4GB of memory.

Given the compact size, don’t be surprised to see GeForce GTX 660 taking the very same route. When GK107 chip finally makes its debut on desktop as GT(X) 640, 650, 655 and 660, don’t be surprised to see the very same PCB board, albeit with a much smaller chip.