Introducing the GeForce GTX 580
In March, we launched the GeForce GTX 480 – our flagship DirectX 11 GPU. Since then, we've been hard at work building its successor. Our goal was not only to create a faster GPU, but also one that's quieter and more power efficient. Today I am pleased to introduce our new flagship graphics processor — the GeForce GTX 580 — our fastest and most power efficient high end GPU to date.
The GeForce GTX 480 shipped with 480 CUDA cores clocked at 1.4GHz. With the GeForce GTX 580, we increased the number of CUDA cores to 512 and cranked up the processor clock to 1.54GHz. Filtering for FP16 textures (commonly used in high dynamic range rendering) is now twice as fast. Z-cull, where invisible pixels are removed to avoid wasted shading, has been designed to be even more effective. The net result is that games on the GTX 580 run 15-20% faster than the GTX 480.
We didn’t stop there. With our goal of making GTX 580 both faster and quieter, we needed to improve power efficiency. To achieve this, we literally went "down to the metal," pouring over every transistor on the chip to find ways to reduce power consumption and leakage. We re-designed the GPU using lower power transistors on less timing sensitive processing paths, and higher speed transistors on more critical processing paths. The end result was faster clocks with slightly less power consumption than GTX 480.
With the performance and power improvements at the chip level done, we set out to design a brand new thermal solution optimized for performance and acoustics. We got quite a bit of feedback from the community on acoustics with GTX 480, and the GTX 580 design took this feedback to heart. Our first step in improving the thermal solution was to move to a vapor chamber design. A vapor chamber looks similar to a regular heat sink, except its copper base is filled with a small amount of liquid that's constantly going through cycles of evaporation and condensation. The heat near the GPU causes the liquid to boil and evaporate. The evaporating liquid draws away heat at a rapid pace – up to ten times faster than straight copper. As the vapor reaches the surface adjacent to the heat sink fins, it cools, condenses, and eventually flows back toward the GPU where the cycle repeats again. While we are not the first to use a vapor chamber, we have been able to implement it very effectively with the GTX 580.
Along with the new heat sink design, we spent a lot of time tuning the GPU fan. We increased the stiffness of the fins to help minimize high frequency noise (heard as whining), so the fan sounds quieter at a given RPM. We rewrote the algorithm that controls how and when the fan ramps so there's a smoother transition between different states. The sum total of these improvements helped us bring the noise down substantially, making it not only quieter than the GTX 480, but also its predecessor, the GTX 285.
Beyond great performance and acoustics, GTX 580 also comes with some pretty massive tessellation horsepower for DX11 games. If you are able to score a new GTX 580, we put together two technology demos that show off its tessellation capabilities (the demos will also run on a GTX 480). The first is called Endless City and shows how tessellation can be used to create an incredibly complex (and never-ending) city environment.
The second demo is called Alien Vs. Triangles, and gives a great example of how tessellation can be used to inflict accurate, customized damage onto a enemy character. Aliens, lasers, a ton of tessellated geometry – what more could you ask for?
We built the GeForce GTX 580 as the ultimate gamer's GPU, and we are excited to be launching it on the same day as the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, one of the most anticipated shooters of the year. COD: Black Ops looks simply incredible with 3D Vision and GTX 580 will let you max everything out with great frame rates.
The new GTX 580 cards are available starting today from e-tailers and system builders around the world. If you have questions or comments on GTX 580, be sure to post them here. If I can pry myself away from COD: Black Ops, I'll check in and answer a few. ;-)