Final Thoughts

Even though NVIDIA is only launching a single card today there’s a lot to digest, so let’s get to it.

Since the GeForce GTX 580 arrived in our hands last week, we’ve been mulling over how to approach it. It boils down to two schools of thought: 1) Do we praise NVIDIA for delivering a high performance single GPU card that strikes the right balance of performance and temperature/noise, or 2) Do we give an indifferent thumbs-up to NVIDIA for only finally delivering the card that we believe the GTX 480 should have been.

The answer we’ve decided is one of mild, but well earned praise. The GTX 580 is not the true next-generation successor to the GTX 480; it’s the GTX 480 having gone back in the womb for 7 months of development. Much like AMD, NVIDIA faced a situation where they were going to do a new product without a die shrink, and had limited options as a result. NVIDIA chose wisely, and came back with a card that is both decently faster and a refined GTX 480 at the same time.

With the GTX 480 we could recognize it as being the fastest single GPU card on the market, but only by recognizing the fact that it was hot and loud at the same time. For buyers the GTX 480 was a tradeoff product – sure it’s fast, but is it too hot/too loud for me? The GTX 580 requires no such tradeoff. We can never lose sight of the fact that it’s a high-end card and is going to be more power hungry, louder, and hotter than many other cards on the market, but it’s not the awkward card that the GTX 480 was. For these reasons our endorsement of the GTX 580 is much more straightforward, at least as long as we make it clear that GTX 580 is less an upgrade for GTX 480, and more a better upgrade for the GTX 285 and similar last-generation cards.

What we’re left with today is something much closer to the “traditional” state of the GPU market: NVIDIA has the world’s fastest single-GPU card, while AMD is currently nipping at their heels with multi-GPU products. Both the Radeon HD 5970 and Radeon HD 6870 CF are worthy competitors to the GTX 580 – they’re faster and in the case of the 6870 CF largely comparable in terms of power/temperature/noise. If you have a board capable of supporting a pair of 6870s and don’t mind the extra power it’s hard to go wrong, but only if you’re willing to put up with the limitations of a multi-GPU setup. It’s a very personal choice – we’d be willing to trade the performance for the simplicity of avoiding a multi-GPU setup, but we can’t speak for everyone.

So what’s next? A few different things. From the NVIDIA camp, NVIDIA is promising a quick launch of the rest of the GeForce 500 series. Given the short development cycles for NVIDIA we’d expect more refined GF10x parts, but this is very much a shot in the dark. Much more likely is a 3GB GTX 580, seeing as how NVIDIA's official product literature calls the GTX 580 the "GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB", a distinction that was never made for the GTX 480.

More interesting however  will be what NVIDIA does with GF110 since it’s a more capable part than GF100 in every way. The GF100 based Quadros and Teslas were only launched in the last few months, but they’re already out of date. With NVIDIA’s power improvements in particular, this seems like a shoo-in for at least one improved Quadro and Tesla card. We also expect 500 series replacements for some of the GF100-based cards (with the GTX 465 likely going away permanently).

Meanwhile the AMD camp is gearing up for their own launches. The 6900 series is due to launch before the year is out, bringing with it AMD’s new Cayman GPU. There’s little we know or can say at this point, but as a part positioned above the 6800 series we’re certainly hoping for a slugfest. At $500 the GTX 580 is pricey (much like the GTX 480 before it), and while this isn’t unusual for the high-end market we wouldn’t mind seeing NVIDIA and AMD bring a high-intensity battle to the high-end, something that we’ve been sorely missing for the last year. Until we see the 6900 series we wouldn’t make any bets, but we can certainly look forward to it later this year.

Power, Temperature, and Noise
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  • mac2j - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Actually the new ATI naming makes a bit more sense.

    Its not a new die shrink but the 6xxx all do share some features not found at all in the 5xxx series such as Displayport 1.2 (which could become very important if 120 and 240Hz monitors ever catch on).

    Also the Cayman 69xx parts are in fact a significantly original design relative to the 58xx parts.

    Nvidia to me is the worst offender ... cause a 580 is just fully-enabled 480 with the noise and power problems fixed.
    Reply
  • Sihastru - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    If you think that stepping up the spec on the output ports warrants skipping a generation when naming your product, see that mini-HDMI port on the 580, that's HDMI 1.4 compliant... the requirements for 120Hz displays are met.

    The GF110 in not a GF100 with all the shaders enabled. It looks that way to the uninitiated. GF110 has much more in common with GF104.

    GF110 has three types of tranzistors, graded by leakage, while the GF100 has just two. This gives you the ability to clock the core higher, while having a lower TDP. It is smaller in size then GF100 is, while maintaining the 40nm fab node. GTX580 has a power draw limitation system on the board, the GTX480 does not...

    What else... support for full speed FP16 texture filtering which enhances performance in texture heavy applications. New tile formats which improve Z-cull efficiency...

    So how does displayport 1.2 warrant the 68x0 name for AMD but the few changes above do not warrant the 5x0 name for nVidia?

    I call BS.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I call your post bullshit.

    The 580 comes with the same old video engine as the GF100 - if it was so close to GF104, it would have that video engine and all the goodies and improvements it brings over the one in the 480 (and 580).

    No, GT580 is a fixed GF100 and most of what you listed there supports that because it fixes what was broken with the 480. Thats all.
    Reply
  • Sihastru - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I'm not sure what you mean... maybe you're right... but I'm not sure... If you're referring to bitstreaming support, just wait for a driver update, the hardware supports it.

    See: http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-580-revi...

    "What is also good to mention is that HDMI audio has finally been solved. The stupid S/PDIF cable to connect a card to an audio codec, to retrieve sound over HDMI is gone. That also entails that NVIDIA is not bound to two channel LPCM or 5.1 channel DD/DTS for audio.

    Passing on audio over the PCIe bus brings along enhanced support for multiple formats. So VP4 can now support 8 channel LPCM, lossless format DD+ and 6 channel AAC. Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio bit streaming are not yet supported in software, yet in hardware they are (needs a driver update)."

    NEVER rely just on one source of information.

    Fine, if a more powerful card then the GTX480 can't be named the GTX580 then why is a lower performing then the HD5870 card is ok to be named HD6870... screw technology, screw refinements, talk numbers...

    Whatever...
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    To set the record straight, the hardware does not support full audio bitstreaming. I had NV themselves confirm this. It's only HDMI 1.4a video + the same audio formats that GTX 480 supported. Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    You can all argue all you want, but at the end of the day, for marketing reasons alone, NV really didn't have much of a choice but to name this card the 580 instead of 485 after ATI gave there cards the 6xxx series names. Which dont deserve a new series name either. Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    No ATI's new naming convention makes no sense at all. Their x870 designation has always been reserved for their Single-GPU Flagship part ever since the HD3870, and this naming convention has held true through both the HD4xxx and HD5xxxx series. But the 6870 clearly isn't the flagship of this generation, in fact, its slower than the 5870 while the 580 is clearly faster than the 480 in every aspect.

    To further complicate matters, ATI also launched the 5970 as a dual-GPU part, so single-GPU Cayman being a 6970 will be even more confusing and will also be undoubtedly slower than the 5970 in all titles that have working CF profiles.

    If anything, Cayman should be 5890 and Barts should be 5860, but as we've seen from both caps, marketing names are often inconvenient and short-sighted when they are originally designated......
    Reply
  • Galid - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    We're getting into philosophy there. Know what's a sophism? An argument that seems strong but isn't because there's a fail in it. The new honda 2011 ain't necessarily better than the 2010 because it's newer.

    They name it differently because it's changed and wanna make you believe it's better but history proved it's not always the case. So the argument of newer generation means better is a false argument. Not everything new ''gotta'' be better in every way to live up to it's name.

    But it's my opinion.
    Reply
  • Galid - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    It seems worse but that rebranding is all ok in my mind as it comes the 6870 comes in at a cheaper price than the 5870. So everyone can be happy about it. Nvidia did worse rebranding some of the 8xxx series into 9xxx chips for higher price but almost no change and no more performance. 9600gt comes to my mind...

    What is 9xxx series? a remake of a ''better'' 8xxx series. What is GTS3xx series, remake of GTx2xx, what is GTX5xx, .... and so on. Who cares? If it's priced well it's all ok. When I see someone going at staples to get a 9600gt at 80$ and I know I can get a 4850 for almost the same price, I say WTF!!!

    GTX580 deserve the name they want to give it. Whoever tries to understand all that naming is up to him. But whoever wants to pay example 100$ for a card should get performance according to that and it seems more important than everything else to me!
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    In this article, Ryan does exactly what you are accusing him of not doing! It is you who need to be asked WTF is wrong Reply

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