Going first base with Fermi -- the GF100
Last week we arrived in Sin City not only to cover CES, but because there was something else going on as well. In Las Vegas, NVIDIA had organized a briefing for a select group of the press. From Europe perhaps ten to fifteen people were invited for this somewhat privileged preview -- the topic, a technical overview of project Fermi. Fermi is of course the family name of the latest generation of GPUs from NVIDIA. The first chipset deriving from Fermi will be called the GF100 GPU which will likely be used on what we think will be called products like GeForce 360 and GeForce 380.
GPUs .. or should we call them graphics CPUs these days? As we certainly do see a large shift from using graphics cards as devices for gaming to a lot of other things as well. It does make one wonder, how long will it be before a GPU is to be considered the same as a CPU?
More on that later. In today's article we are going to look a little deeper into what you guys know as Fermi, but really what should be denoted as GF100. Now you have seen a lot of rumours and speculation on the GF100 already. Some of the rumours we'll be able to squash today, others will remain a mystery until launch as really, this is not even a paper launch, we can talk about the GPU -- and that's it.
So let me emphasize that this article is a very petit preview of the GPU, not the graphics card as a whole. As such we'll talk a little about the architecture and some of the new features. We can not show any board specification in terms of clock speeds and configurations just yet. A shame really, but it is what it is.
Wanna hear some spicy key features though? Yep ... of course. 3 Billion transistors are embedded into this GPU, which is huge. GDDR5? Absolutely, it's the way to go to reach the massive bandwidth a monster GPU like this really needs. And sure, it's error correcting gDDR5 as well as that is really going to help out on the computational side of things. DX11 ? Well duh ! Of course the GF100 is a fully capable DirectX 11 ready product. In fact one of the main focus areas of the GF100 was to put a product out there with outstanding tessellation performance as game developers requested that and it is one of the main features of DX11 next to the new compute functions into the Windows 7 and Vista pipeline.
Before we begin with this architectural deep dive, we will confirm some of the technical specifications you have all heard about. We'll start up with the basics of the architecture then go a little deeper and talk about what exactly has changed inside that GPU as opposed to the GT200 series GPUs (GeForce GTX 285 etc). We do warn you in advance though though we'll limit this article in terms of understandable terminology but you also need to realize that this article will not be for everybody as it might be a little too technical for some of you. We'll dig though the architecture first, then talk about DX 11 , compute functions, performance levels and image quality and sure .. have a peek at some of the new tech demo's we have seen from NVIDIA.
Let's head on over to the next page.