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Nvidia unveils next-gen fermi architecture

Nvidia may have renamed its NVISION promotional conference to the “GPU Technology Conference,” but it's still an Nvidia show through and through.

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's took some time during his keynote to unveil the company's next major GPU architecture, code-named “Fermi.” This is the chip graphics fans have been calling GT300, the generational successor to the GT200 chip that powers cards like the GeForce GTX 285.

The chip giant was very careful to position the chip as not a new graphics chip, but a new “compute and graphics” chip, in that order (italics mine). In fact, nearly everything revealed about the new chip relates to its computational features, rather than traditionally graphics-oriented stuff like texture units and render-back ends.

What we do know is that the chip is huge at an estimated 3.0 billion transistors, and will be produced on a 40nm process at TSMC. This is about 40% more transistors than the RV870 chip in the new Radeon 5800 series DirectX 11 cards just released by rival AMD. The chip has 512 processing units (Nvidia calls them CUDA cores) organized into 16 “streaming multiprocessors” of 32 cores each. This is more than double the 240 cores in GT200, and the cores have significant enhancements besides. The chip will utilize a 384-bit GDDR5 memory interface.

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