NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1536 MB Review 332

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1536 MB Review

Test Setup »

A Closer Look

Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

The GeForce GTX 580 is one of the few graphics cards that uses a vapor-chamber technology heatplate to maximize heat transfer between the GPU and the rest of the heatsink. You can also see above that the heatsink cools secondary components like voltage regulation circuitry and memory chips. Overall this seems to be a very capable thermal solution but that also increases its price.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

NVIDIA's 6+8 power input configuration is sufficient for the GTX 580 design and provides up to 300 W.

In order to stay within the 300 W power limit, NVIDIA has added a power draw limitation system to their card. When either Furmark or OCCT are detected running by the driver, three Texas Instruments INA219 sensors measure the inrush current and voltage on all 12 V lines (PCI-E slot, 6-pin, 8-pin) to calculate power. As soon as the power draw exceeds a predefined limit, the card will automatically clock down and restore clocks as soon as the overcurrent situation has gone away. NVIDIA emphasizes this is to avoid damage to cards or motherboards from these stress testing applications and claims that in normal games and applications such an overload will not happen. At this time the limiter is only engaged when the driver detects Furmark / OCCT, it is not enabled during normal gaming. NVIDIA also explained that this is just a work in progress with more changes to come. From my own testing I can confirm that the limiter only engaged in Furmark and OCCT and not in other games I tested. I am still concerned that with heavy overclocking, especially on water and LN2 the limiter might engage, and reduce clocks which results in reduced performance. Real-time clock monitoring does not show the changed clocks, so besides the loss in performance it could be difficult to detect that state without additional testing equipment or software support.
I did some testing of this feature in Furmark and recorded card only power consumption over time. As you can see the blue line fluctuates heavily over time which also affects clocks and performance accordingly. Even though we see spikes over 300 W in the graph, the average (represented by the purple line) is clearly below 300 W. It also shows that the system is not flexible enough to adjust power consumption to hit exactly 300 W.

Graphics Card Memory Chips

The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Samsung, and carry the model number K4G10325FE-HC04. They are specified to run at 1250 MHz (5000 MHz GDDR5 effective).

Just like on the GeForce GTX 480, NVIDIA uses a CHiL CHL 8266 voltage regulator on their card. This controller offers extensive monitoring and voltage control options via I2C, so it's a great choice for overclockers.

Graphics Chip GPU

NVIDIA's GeForce 110 graphics processor is made on a 40 nm process at TSMC Taiwan. It uses approximately 3.0 billion transistors which is 200 million less than the GF100. Please note that the silvery metal surface you see is the heatspreader of the GPU. The actual GPU die is sitting under the heatspreader, its dimensions are not known. According to NVIDIA, the die size of the GF110 graphics processor is 520 mm².
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