Finally! Today NVIDIA releases their highly anticipated GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470 cards. While the initial announcement of the Fermi architecture was back in 2009, the actual cards are being released just now.
NVIDIA has radically redesigned their GPU in order to bring maximum performance for DirectX 11 - especially tesselation. You can read more about the Fermi architecture here.
The specifications are certainly interesting. Instead of using all 512 shaders which are physically present inside the GPU, NVIDIA has chosen to disable one SM on the GTX 480 and two SMs on the GTX 470. I marked one SM red in the picture above, but it can be any one of the 16 that are present inside the GPU. As a result, NVIDIA's flagship GeForce GTX 480 comes with "only" 480 shaders. While unfortunate, this move makes NVIDIA's life much easier on several levels. First of all, they can build more cards out of the GPUs they get back from TSMC. Even if a slight defect is present in the silicon which would make some shaders unusable that chip can still be harvested into a shipping product. Another benefit is that the lower shader count reduces the power consumption of the card which affects heat and fan noise too. Last but not least it gives NVIDIA the option to release a higher performing Fermi-based single GPU card quickly if it should be needed.
It seems NVIDIA took a really good look at price/performance of their GeForce GTX 480 and positioned it properly so it can compete with AMD's HD 5870. Many people (including me) expected a price in the $600 range, or even above. So it comes as a relief to see the cards being offered at $499. At least that's NVIDIA's MSRP, the actual pricing in the market will also be dependant on supply and demand. While not officially confirmed we have heard the number 10,000 in regard to Fermi availability from company sources, so this means that everybody who wants a card can get one - hopefully. Also it should be noted that today there will be no cards available at e-tailers. Stock is expected to hit the shelves around mid-April.
HD 4870 X2
|Shader units||2x 800||240||1440||448||1600||480||2x 240||2x 1600|
|ROPs||2x 16||32||32||40||32||48||2x 28||2x 32|
|GPU||2x RV770||GT200b||Cypress||GF100||Cypress||GF100||2x GT200b||2x Cypress|
|Transistors||2x 956M||1400M||2154M||3200M||2154M||3200M||2x 1400M||2x 2154M|
|Memory Size||2x 1024 MB||1024 MB||1024 MB||1215 MB||1024 MB||1536 MB||2x 896 MB||2x 1024 MB|
|Memory Bus Width||2x 256 bit||512 bit||256 bit||320 bit||256 bit||384 bit||2x 448 bit||2x 256 bit|
|Core Clock||750 MHz||648 MHz||725 MHz||607 MHz||850 MHz||700 MHz||576 MHz||725 MHz|
|Memory Clock||900 MHz||1242 MHz||1000 MHz||837 MHz||1200 MHz||924 MHz||999 MHz||1000 MHz|