nVidia has just unveiled its complete Fermi line-up, albeit in a less-expected form: the company is launching three mobile GPUs: GF104M, GF106M and GF108M to replace the only mobile Fermi: GF100M, which as we all know - is not exactly a notebook part.
A very interesting bit about today's launch was that for the first time since we can recall, nVidia launched mobile GPUs first, to be later followed by desktop parts [GF106 debuts on September 12, GF108 comes on October 13]. According to sources in the know, nVidia heavily optimized the power consumption on the GF106 and GF108 parts and planned to do a notebook launch first. Secondly, OEMs jumped on nVidia and pushed for the notebook parts, as this holiday season is increasingly likely to be plastered with "3D" stickers jumping from everywhere. Discrete GPU Gaining Ground? Check
Both nVidia and AMD saw radical growth in adoption of discrete GPUs among OEMs - Windows 7 and consumer trends dictate the need for graphics power and there is no stepping back. The role of CPU is decreasing, with consumers requiring more and more visual content. As we all know, some of CPU-only apps did not scale at all, and you would get same experience with casual games such as Farmville regardless of you using a 1.33GHz dual-core notebook or a $1000, 3.33GHz sexa-core desktop processor.Both AMD and nVidia agree the breakover point is coming for discrete GPUs - according to nVidia, between Back-2-School and Holiday Season 2011
nVidia views Holiday Season 2011 as the infliction point, with the number of notebooks with discrete GPUs overtaking the number of ones with integrated graphics. These numbers are followed by nearly doubling the market share between 2007 and 2009, as well as steady growth during 2010. From my personal experience, I remember looking for notebooks with discrete graphics in Fry's, Best Buy in the States and MediaMarkt and co., in Europe and back in 2008 - there weren't a lot of notebooks with discrete graphics. However, during 2010, we saw that the tide has shifted and now retailers are pushing discrete GPUs like no tomorrow. In fact, during recent trip to retail store, we numbered 34 out of 44 notebooks running discrete GPU.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that nVidia is firstly launching two new GPUs in mobile, then followed by desktop. The LineupFrom Left to Right: GF104M, GF106M and GF108M. Die sizes [not disclosed by nVidia]: 331mm2, 238mm2 and 126mm2. Note that images are provided by nVidia and were not 1:1 in scale, as balls on GF108 are smaller
Today, nVidia is introducing seven new models based on three GPUs, two of which are seeing the light of day for the first time. We start off with a part that is already available in notebooks. Back in June, nVidia debuted GeForce GTX 480M, a cut-down GF100 chip which featured 352 cores and 256-bit memory interface - long story short, a desktop GTX 465 in a notebook. Today, nVidia is refreshing this part with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The specs are still the same - 425MHz GPU clock, 850MHz core clock, and 600MHz QDR clock [76.8GB/s]. We wonder if nVidia plans to replace GF100 with a GF104 based part. In that case, the number of cores would have to change, as GF104 cannot feature 352 cores [but higher clocked 336 would be a neat option].
nVidia Mobile GTX Lineup at glance: GF100M, GF104M and GF106M GPUs
Do note that we disagree with nVidia's deciphering of GDDR5 memory. In order to keep up with AMD's specs [on paper], nVidia does not cite DRAM Cell clock as AMD does. GDDR5 memory operates in Quad Data Rate mode, not Double Data Rate mode. Thus, while nVidia may state GTX480M memory operates at 1.2GHz DDR, reality is that these 2GB of GDDR5 memory operate at 600MHz in QDR mode, resulting in 76.8GB/s. 32-bytes times 2400 is 76800. 32-bytes [256-bit] times 1200 [MHz] won't give you 76.8GB/s even if you stand on your head.
Moving forward, GF104 already shipped in millions of units as the GeForce GTX 460, with the mobile version [GF104M] being nothing more than a power binned part. GF104M debuts as GeForce GTX 470M. GTX 470M features 288 cores working at 1.1GHz, while 768MB of GDDR5 memory checks at 625MHz QDR, resulting with 60GB/s of video memory bandwidth.
GF106M is a completely new GPU, which can be translated as "one half of GF104" - debuts as GeForce GTX 460M. This chip revolves around a number 192 - both CUDA cores and the width of memory controller. The GPU operates at 675MHz, while cores tick at double the clock [1.35GHz]. Even though the cores are different, this part features identical memory subsystem as the GTX 470M.
You can expect SLI notebooks based on GTX 480M, GTX 470M and GTX 460M, as these three are the only launched parts that support SLI.
nVidia Mainstream GT Mobile GeForce is headlined by GF106M and GF108M GPUs
GF106M is also available as GT 445M with either GDDR3 or GDDR5 memory. GT 445M clocks at 590MHz, meaning that its 144 cores clock in at 1.18GHz, with either 128-bit memory interface [800MHz GDDR3 memory, 25.6GB/s] or 192-bit interface. 192-bit interface uses GDDR5 memory clocked at 625MHz in QDR mode, resulting in bandwidth of 60GB/s [identical to GTX 460M and 470M]. On desktop, GF106 will debut on September 12th as GeForce GTS 445 / 450.
The final part makes the bulk of the announcement - GF108M is arriving today as GeForce GT 435M, GT 425M, 420M and 415M. As we already disclosed, GF108M is one half of GF106, i.e. one quarter of GF104. Two 48-core SM units make up for a single GPC cluster, with GT 415M using only one SM unit [48 core]. GT 420M, GT 425M and 435M all carry 96 available cores and pack 128-bit memory controller.
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