Nvidia recently revealed its latest graphics card, the GeForce GTX 680, claiming back the crown from AMD. The new card employs Nvidia's new Kepler GPU architecture for improved performance, with lower power consumption. Following the 40-nm Fermi, Kepler comes with a fully redesigned streaming multiprocessor focusing on efficiency, as well as GPU Boost to dynamically adjust clock speed within power consumption limits.

GTX 680 'Handily Outperforms' the GTX 580

The new GeForce GTX 680 uses SMX as well, featuring 192 CUDA cores, on the same base clock across the GPU. The 1536 cores on the GPU means the GTX 680 handily outperforms the GTX 580, said Nvidia. Kepler is likely to serve as the foundation of graphics products for the next few years, on TSMC's 28-nm process.

First real Implementation of Kepler

According to Silicon Valley analyst David Kanter, Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 680 is indeed the first real implementation of Kepler, and renders excellent performance. The aggregate single precision shader performance is 3TFLOP/s at the base frequency, about 2.4× faster than the GTX 560. Perhaps the most encouraging part of the story is that Kepler appears to be remarkably area and power efficient, stated Kanter, according to an analysis posted on RealWord Tech.

Improved Efficiency

Kanter adds that Nvidia's previous generations were rather inefficient, likely due to the focus on general purpose computational workloads, but the new graphics card is a 195W TDp card, packing in 2.54B transistors in 294mm2. The first Kepler products significantly improve the GFLOP/S/W and GFLOP/S/mm2 beyond simply process technology scaling, which bodes well for the architecture.

Kepler, a 'Tremendous Milestone' for Nvidia

Moreover, the GDDR5 memory of the GTX 680 has reached 6GT/s, not only reaching but even exceeding AMD. Still, Kanter believes general purpose workloads have been sacrificed in favor of graphics efficiency, making Nvidia's kepler core a poor fit for non-consumer compute applications. Nvidia's architects made a conscious choice to quadruple the FLOPs for each core, but only double the bandwidth for shared data, said Kanter. The analyst did, however, conclude by highlighting that Kepler is a tremendous milestone for Nvidia.

Indeed, with the new GTX 680 Nvidia addressed its previous generations' efficiency flaws and now provides good memory bandwidth, excellent graphics performance, strong execution at 28-nm, as well as great power and area efficiency.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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