NVIDIA’s GF100: Architected for Gamingby Ryan Smith on January 17, 2010 2:00 AM EST
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3D Vision Surround: NVIDIA’s Eyefinity
During our meeting with NVIDIA, they were also showing off 3D Vision Surround, which was announced at the start of CES at their press conference. 3D Vision Surround is not inherently a GF100 technology, but since it’s being timed for release along-side GF100 cards, we’re going to take a moment to discuss it.
If you’ve seen Matrox’s TripleHead2Go or AMD’s Eyefinity in action, then you know what 3D Vision Surround is. It’s NVIDIA’s implementation of the single large surface concept so that games (and anything else for that matter) can span multiple monitors. With it, gamers can get a more immersive view by being able to surround themselves with monitors so that the game world is projected from more than just a single point in front of them.
NVIDIA tells us that they’ve been sitting on this technology for quite some time but never saw a market for it. With the release of TripleHead2Go and Eyefinity it became apparent to them that this was no longer the case, and they unboxed the technology. Whether this is true or a sudden reaction to Eyefinity is immaterial at the moment, as it’s coming regardless.
This triple-display technology will have two names. When it’s used on its own, NVIDIA is calling it NVIDIA Surround. When it’s used in conjunction with 3D Vision, it’s called 3D Vision Surround. Obviously NVIDIA would like you to use it with 3D Vision to get the full effect (and to require a more powerful GPU) but 3D Vision is by no means required to use it. It is however the key differentiator from AMD, at least until AMD’s own 3D efforts get off the ground.
Regardless of to what degree this is a sudden reaction from NVIDIA over Eyefinity, ultimately this is something that was added late in to the design process. Unlike AMD who designed the Evergreen family around it from the start, NVIDA did not, and as a result they did not give a GF100 the ability to drive more than 2 displays at once. The shipping GF100 cards will have the traditional 2 monitor limit, meaning that gamers will need 2 GF100 cards in SLI to drive 3+ monitors, with the second card needed to provide the 3rd and 4th display outputs. We expect that the next NVIDIA design will include the ability to drive 3+ monitors from a single GPU, as for the moment this limitation precludes any ability to do Surround for cheap.
GTX 280 with 2 display outputs: GF100 won't be any different
As for some good news, as we stated earlier this is not a technology inherent to the GF100. NVIDIA can do it entirely in software and as a result will be backporting this technology to the GT200 (GTX 200 series). The drivers that get released for the GF100 will allow GTX 200 cards to do Surround in the same manner: with 2 cards, you can run a single large surface across 3+ displays. We’ve seen this in action and it works, as NVIDIA was demoing a pair of GTX 285s running in NVIDIA Surround mode in their CES booth.
The big question of course is going to be what this does for performance on both the GF100 and GT200, along with compatibility. That’s something that we’re going to have to wait on the actual hardware for.
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Ryan Smith - Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - link
At this point I'm not sure where that would be, and part of that is diminishing returns. Tessellation will return better models, but adding polygons will result in diminishing returns. We're going to have to see what games do in order to see if the extra geometry that GF100 is supposed to be able to generate can really result in a noticeable difference.
Will game makers take advantage of it? That's the million-dollar question right now. NVIDIA is counting on them doing so, but it remains to be seen just how many devs are going to make meaningful use of tessellation (beyond just n-patching things for better curves), since DX11 game development is so young.
Consoles certainly have a lot to do with it. One very real possibility is that the bulk of games continue to be at the DX9 level until the next generation of consoles hits with DX11-like GPUs. I'll answer the rest of this in your next question.
The good news is that it takes very little work. Game assets are almost always designed at a much greater level of detail than what they ship at. The textbook example is Doom3, where the models were designed on the order of 1mil polygons; they needed to be designed that detailed in order to compute proper bump maps and parallax maps. Tessellation and the displacement map is just one more derived map in that regard - for the most part you only need to export an appropriate displacement map from your original assets, and NV is counting on this.
The only downsides to NV's plan are that: 1) Not everything is done at this high of a detail level (models are usually highly detailed, the world geometry not so much), and 2) Higher quality displacement maps aren't "free". Since a game will have multiple displacement maps (you have to MIP-chain them just like you do any other kind of map), a dev is basically looking at needing to include at least 1 more level that's even bigger than the others. Conceivably, not everyone is going to have extra disc space to spend on such assets. Although most games currently still have space to spare on a DVD-9, so I can't quantify how much of a problem that might be. From my perspective, unless they can deliver better than 5870 performance at a reasonable price, then their image quality improvements aren't going to be enough to seal the deal. If they can meet those two factors however, then yes, image quality needs to be factored in to some degree.
FITCamaro - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkIt will be fast. But from the size of it, its going to be expensive as hell.
I question how much success nvidia will have with yet another fast but hot and expensive card. Especially with the entire world in recession.
beginner99 - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkSounds nice but I doubt it's useful yet. DX11, probably takes at least 1-2 year till it takes off and the geometry power could be useful. Meaning could have easly waited a generation longer.
Power consumption will probably be deciding. The new Radeons do rather well in that area.
But anyway, i'm gonna wait. unless it is complete crap, it will at least help for Radeon prices going south, even if you don't buy one.
just4U - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkOn Amd pricing. It seems pretty fair for the 57XX line. Cheaper overall then the 4850 and 4870 on their launches with similiar performance and added DX11 features.
It would be nice to see the 5850 and 5870 priced about one third cheaper.. but here in Canada the cards are always sold out or of very limited stock so... I guess there is some justification for the higher pricing.
I still can't get a 275 cheap either. It's priced 30-40% higher then the 4870.
The only card(s) I've purchased so far are the 5750s as I feel the last gen products are still viable at their current pricing ... and I buy a fair amount of video cards (20-100 per year)
solgae1784 - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkLet's just hope this GF100 doesn't become another disaster that was "Geforce FX".
setzer - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkWhile on paper these specs look great for the High-End market (>500€ cards) how much will the mainstream market lose, as in the cards that sell around the 150~300€ bracket, which coincidently are the cards the most people tend to buy. Nvidia tends to scale down the specifications but how much will it be scaled down, what is the interest of the new IQ improvements if you can only use them on high-end cards because the mainstream cards can't handle it.
The 5 series radeons are similar, the new generation only has appeal if you go for the 58xx++ cards, which are overpriced, if you already have a 4850 you can hold out from buying a new card for at least one extra year, take the 5670, it has dx11 support but hasn't the horse power to use it effectively neutering the card from start as far as dx11 goes.
So even if Nvidia goes with a March launch of GF100, I'm guessing it will not be until June or July that we see the GeForce 10600GT (like or GX600GT, phun on ATI 10000 series :P), which will just have the effect of Radeon prices to stay where they are (high) and not where they should be in terms of performance (slightly on par with the HD 4000 series).
Beno - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkpage 2 isnt working
Zool - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkIt will be interesting how much of the geometry performance will be true in the end from all these hype. I wouldnt put my hand into fire on nvidias pr slides and in house demos. Like the pr graph with 600% teselation performance increase over ati card. It will surely have some dark sides too like everything around. Nothing is free. Until real benchmarks u cant trust too much to pr graphs these days.
haplo602 - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkThis looks similar to what Riva TNT used to be. Nvidia was promising everything including a cure for cancer. It turned out to be barely better than 3Dfx at that time because of clock/power/heat problems.
Seems Fermi will be a big bang in workstation/HPC markets. Gaming not so much.
DominionSeraph - Monday, January 18, 2010 - linkAnyone with at least half a brain had a TNT. Tech noobs saw "Voodoo" and went with the gimped Banshee, and those with money to burn threw in dual Voodoo 2's.
How does this at all compare to Fermi, whose performance will almost certainly not justify its price. The 5870's doesn't, not with the 5850 in town. Such is the nature of the bleeding edge.
Do you just type things out at random?