March 12, 2010
By now its most everyone has heard about Nvidia’s new GPU code named “Fermi” is set to release later this month, 3/26 to be exact, assuming it doesnt get pushed back again. There is no reason to suspect that the new GPU name GTX 480/470 will be pushed back again. However if the rumors are true then I fear many will be left disspointed.
Now its no surprise that any manufacturer runs into problems during development of a new product, however Nvidia seems to be having a run of bad luck lately. First they were unable to match ATI’s launch of their 5800 series cards, which happens but to be roughly 6 months late to the party has to hurt them. ATI has been owning the market with little to no competition for the past 6mo or so. The hold up is said to be largly in part to bad yeilds of their 40nm chip and heat managment issues. Then to go along with the late release of their new flagship product they recently recalled their latests drivers as they were frying cards. The good news is drivers can be fixed and the GTX480/470 are set to release at the end of March. The bad news is that, if rumors are true, the new card will only be available in short supply and only through Nvidia exclusive dealers who dont sell the competition ATI. Another thing is that the GTX 480 is said it is expected to have a price tag above $650USD and the GTX 470 around $500USD, which is ridiculous. Now Nvidia has to make a profit off their product yes, but to be priced so high above the competition may hurt them. The Radeon HD 5870 is priced at $380-400USD and the HD 5850 around $300USD. This price might be justified by a dramatic increase in performance over ATI, however it is not. Nvidia did a benchmark and released some detail of the GTX 480’s performance which does not justify a price tag of $200+ over the HD 5870. The GTX 480 and HD 5870 ran head to head in very similar performance until Tessellation was brought into the picture. While the GTX 480 had higher frame rates with tessellation it wasnt so much higher as to justify spending 200+ over ATI. The other thing to consider also is Nvidia Physx tech, and the GTX 470 is said to nothing more than a mix between the 5850 and 5870. I dont know what happened to Havok but ATI doesnt really have any kind of physics support anymore, at least for now 😉 But ever since Nvidia aquired Ageia they have produced Physx unchallenged, which to some would justify the cost, however with a free 3rd party driver mod/patch and the correct sequence of installation one can use an ATI card for redering and a Physx capable Nvidia card as a PPU (Physx Processing Unit) without conflict. Now this is not widely utilized but I think Nvidia may push people to this method with such high prices.
**the green line represents the GTX 480 the red line HD 5870, the 480 only pulls ahead when tessellation is introduced, a feature that wont be heavily utilized until DX11 really takes off**
While not officially supported it is possible to use Nvidia with ATI for superior rendering with all the eye candy of Physx. Nvidia seems to be the only one to condemn this kind of set up as I found a tutorial to do this in a forum on the AMD site, I think the tutorial may have even been written by an AMD?/ATI admin.
In short Fermi or GTX480/470 is sure to be a huge hit, however Nvidia’s strategy may hinder sales and hurt them upon release, and possibly cause them to lose some customers to ATI.