The graph below is one of transistor count, not die size. Inevitably, on the same manufacturing process, a significantly higher transistor count translates into a larger die size. But for the purposes of this article, all I need to show you is a representation of transistor count.

See that big circle on the right? That's Fermi. NVIDIA's next-generation architecture.

NVIDIA astonished us with GT200 tipping the scales at 1.4 billion transistors. Fermi is more than twice that at 3 billion. And literally, that's what Fermi is - more than twice a GT200.

At the high level the specs are simple. Fermi has a 384-bit GDDR5 memory interface and 512 cores. That's more than twice the processing power of GT200 but, just like RV870 (Cypress), it's not twice the memory bandwidth.

The architecture goes much further than that, but NVIDIA believes that AMD has shown its cards (literally) and is very confident that Fermi will be faster. The questions are at what price and when.

The price is a valid concern. Fermi is a 40nm GPU just like RV870 but it has a 40% higher transistor count. Both are built at TSMC, so you can expect that Fermi will cost NVIDIA more to make than ATI's Radeon HD 5870.

Then timing is just as valid, because while Fermi currently exists on paper, it's not a product yet. Fermi is late. Clock speeds, configurations and price points have yet to be finalized. NVIDIA just recently got working chips back and it's going to be at least two months before I see the first samples. Widespread availability won't be until at least Q1 2010.

I asked two people at NVIDIA why Fermi is late; NVIDIA's VP of Product Marketing, Ujesh Desai and NVIDIA's VP of GPU Engineering, Jonah Alben. Ujesh responded: because designing GPUs this big is "fucking hard".

Jonah elaborated, as I will attempt to do here today.

A Different Sort of Launch


View All Comments

  • AlexWade - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    How long have you been working for NVidia? Reply
  • taltamir - Thursday, October 1, 2009 - link

    don't insult nvidia by insinuating that this zealot is their employee Reply
  • dzoni2k2 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    What the heck is wrong with you SiliconDoc?

    Since when is memory bandwidth main indicator of performance?!

    For all I care Fermis memory bandwidth can be 999GB/s but what good is that if it's not used?
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    I'm sure "it won't be used" because for the very first time "nvidia will make sure it "won't be used" becuase "they designed it that way ! " LOL
    You people are absolutely PATHETIC.

    Now the greater Nvidia bandwith doesn't matter, because you don't care if it's 999, because... nvidia failed on design, and "it won't be used!"
    Honestly, if you people heard yourselves...
    I am really disappointed that the bias here is so much worse than even I had known, not to mention the utter lack of intellect so often displayed.
    What a shame.
  • PorscheRacer - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Exactly! R600 had huge bandwidth but couldn't effectively use it; for the msot part. Is this huge bandwdth the GF300 has only able to be used in cGPU, or is it able to be used in games, too? We won't know till the card is actually reviewed a long while from now. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    What a joke. The current GT200 responds in all flavors quite well to memory clock / hence bandwith increases.
    You know that, you have been around long enough.
    It's great seeing the reds scream it doesn't matter when ati loses a category. (no actually it isn't great, it's quite sickening)
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Yes of course bandwith does not really matter when ati loses, got it red rooster. When nvidia is SO FAR AHEAD in it, it's better to say "it's not double"...LOL
    What is wrong with you ? Why don't you want to know when it's nvidia, when it's nvidia a direct comparison to ati's card is FORBIDDEN !
    That's what the author did !
    It was " a very adept DECEPTION" !
    Just pointing out how you get snowballed and haven't a clue.
    Rumors also speculated 4,000 data rate ddr5

    4000x384/8 - 192 bandwith, still planty more than 153 ati.

    CLEARLY though "not double 141" (nvidia's former number also conveniently NOT MEWNTIONED being so close to 153/5870 is EMBARRASSING) - is 282...
    So anand knows it's 240, not quite double 141, short of 282.
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Looks like SnakeOil has another alias! Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Agreed. That was refreshing! Reply
  • mapesdhs - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Blimey, I didn't know Ujesh could utter such things. :D When I knew
    him in 1998 he was much more offical/polite-sounding (he was Product
    Manager for the O2 workstation at SGI; I was using a loaner O2 from
    SGI to hunt for OS/app bugs - Ujesh was my main contact for feedback).

    The poster who talked about availability has a strong point. My brother
    has asked me to build him a new system next week. Looks like it'll be
    an Athlon II X4 620, 4GB RAM, 5850, better CPU cooler, with either an
    AM3 mbd and DDR3 RAM or AM2+ mbd and DDR2 RAM (not sure yet). By heck
    he's going to see one hell of a speed boost; his current system is a
    single-core Athlon64 2.64GHz, 2GB DDR400, X1950Pro AGP 8X. :D My own
    6000+ 8800GT will seem slow by comparison... :|



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