nVidia is best known as the maker of heavy duty GPUs although most know about their mobile product Tegra (and the components that go into it). Between these two items nVidia has a very good product portfolio. However, nVidia has not always been limited to GPUs and SoCs. At one time they also developed and manufactured their own Chipsets. These were required to utilize SLI (Scalable Link Interface) that has its roots from 3dfx which nVidia grabbed when they bought the latter. nVidia’s chipset business did not last that long due to a number of reasons and they were eventually forced to let it drop and instead license the right to use SLI out to other companies.
Over the weekend rumors popped up that nVidia was preparing to begin a full recall on all Kepler based products. The rumor cited a leak from TSMC stating that Kepler “chips may be suffering from serious performance degradation over long periods of heavy load”. This sounds almost exactly like what came out of “sources” at TSMC during the “bumpgate” issue that happened when the solder bumps in certain GPUs were failing due to degradation over multiple heat cycles. However, does this rumor have any truth to it? Or are we seeing a return to the days of Guerilla marketing like we did in the early 2000s.
Although we have to say that the actual news was still very cool we are a little disappointed that it appears we were wrong about the crowbar that nVidia sent in the mail to a group of websites. Late last night (well at least while we were sleeping) nVidia announced the launch of the GTX 690. This is the rumored dual GTX 680 graphics card that is supposed to catapult nVidia to the top of the heap.
Wow it looks like this month is the moth for leaks; we have seen early leaks on Intel’s Z77 chipset, nVidia’s mobile Kepler GPU and even early full reviews of Intel’s Ivy Bridge (this incident sent some at Intel over the edge). Now we have new leaks on nVidia’s Kepler. The first leak was a simple one that involved the early publishing of nVidia’s GTX 680 launch video. Apparently this was leaked on the eve of the launch (which if rumor is to be believed) is tomorrow some time.
Since AMD has had a few leaks about their Tahiti GPU it only serves to reason that nVidia would manage a few of their own. After all, what is good for one side is good for the other. We found these while clicking around (as usual) looking for something interesting out there to write about. We happened upon a German 3D site called 3DCenter and found a very interesting news post to write about indeed.
When I hear the name of nVidia’s next-gen GPU code named Kepler all I can hear is Cave Johnson from Portal 2 saying, “Now if you're part of control group Kepler-7, we planted a tiny microchip, about the size of a postcard, into your skull.” It is interesting in that Kepler is supposed to be nVidia’s 28nm GPU offering. True a 28nm GPU is a lot smaller than a post card but the other half of Cave Johnson’s statement does seem to have some very nVidia parallels… “Most likely you've forgotten it's even there, but if it starts vibrating and beeping during this next test let us know, because that means it's about to hit about 500 degrees so we're gonna need to go ahead and get that out of you pretty fast.”
Now, I am saying this with humor, but we have seen some rather hot GPUs from nVidia over the years. If Kepler has the same issues that Fermi had then the first run could be quite the space heater. Of course, if you ask the typical gamer they will more than likely tell you that they do not care as much about the heat as long as the FPS is through the roof.
Which brings us to the real crux of the issue, nVidia has already admitted that they will be at least a month or more behind their original timeline for this release (like Fermi) and they will be far behind AMD’s Southern Islands. In the gaming and GPU market it is often the person that gets to market first that wins the acceptance. This is not like the DX11 shift when it was Fermi Vs the Other Islands from AMD where there were almost no compelling games using that technology. Now we are looking at a few good DX11 games so we are going to see people looking to pounce on the next generation products as long as they are faster than what is currently on the market from both companies and the prices are right.
nVidia really needs to get on the ball to get their timelines back in order or they do stand to lose quite a few Holiday sales to AMD which will hurt their own sales numbers when they finally do get Kepler out the door.
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