Nvidia rolls out next-gen Kepler GPUs 

Nvidia has rolled out the first GPUs powered by its next-generation Kepler architecture, which is based on 28-nanometer (nm) process technology and succeeds the 40-nm Fermi.

According to Nvidia exec Brian Kelleher, the new $500 GeForce GTX 680 GPU offers a faster, smoother and richer experience for desktop gaming, while the lineup of GeForce 600M GPUs was designed to put the “ultra” in Ultrabooks.

“Compared with the closest competitive product, the GeForce GTX 680 GPU is more than 300 percent faster in DirectX 11 tessellation performance and up to 43 percent faster in cutting edge games such as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim yet consumes 28 percent less power,” said Kelleher.

“It also provides twice the performance per watt of the GeForce GTX 580, the flagship Fermi-based processor that it replaces.”

Meanwhile, Nvidia rep Brian Burke told TG Daily that numerous Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks with Kepler-based GeForce GPUs will be available in the first half of 2012. 

So how does the GeForce GTX 680 GPU stack up agains the competition? Well, according to Marco Chiappetta of Hot Hardware, the GTX 680 is the fastest single-GPU based graphics card he has ever tested.

“Generally speaking, the GeForce GTX 680 was between approximately 5% and 25% faster than AMD’s Radeon HD 7970, depending on the application – although the Radeon HD 7970 was able to pull ahead in a couple of spots, like Alien vs. Predator,” wrote Chiappetta.

“In comparison to Nvidia’s previous single-GPU flagship, the GeForce GTX 580, the new GTX 680 is between 15% and 50% faster. Versus ultra high-end, dual-GPU powered cards like the Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 590, the GeForce GTX 680’s performance still looks good, as it was able to outrun those dual-GPU powerhouses on a few occasions.”

Chiappetta also commented on the price point, noting that although $500 wasn’t cheap, it was certainly “more palatable” than the $549+ of the Radeon HD 7970. 

“In addition to shifting the price performance curve in consumers’ favor, the GeForce GTX 680 should also force AMD to cut the prices of their Radeon HD 7800 and 7900 series cards, another win for consumer.”

Brent Justice of HardOCP expressed similar sentiments.

“We have been complaining that AMD has been running roughshod over the consumer in term of pricing due to Nvidia not providing any competition. Well, all that just ended today. The GeForce GTX 680 truly is a win right out of the gate. It has been a long time since we’ve said that about a new GPU from Nvidia, and it is about time the company got something right the first time! 

“Perhaps the stigma of power hungry, hot, inefficient GPUs is gone thanks to the GeForce GTX 680? Nvidia needed to build its ‘green’ reputation back up with hardware enthusiasts and gamers, and the GeForce GTX 680 is an excellent start. Let’s just hope we see Nvidia’s next flagship GK110 do the same.”

Additional GeForce GTX 680 GPU specs include:

  • A new streaming multiprocessor block, dubbed SMX, that delivers twice the performance per watt of previous-generation products.
  • Special board components, including acoustic dampeners, high-efficiency heat pipes and custom fins, that create a quiet gaming experience.
  • Nvidia GPU Boost technology, which dynamically adjusts GPU speeds to maximize gaming performance.

  • New FXAA and TXAA antialiasing and Adaptive VSync technologies to enrich visual quality without compromising gaming performance.
  • Support for up to four separate displays – three of them in 3D – off a single card for a massive 3D gaming experience.
  • Supports PCI-E Gen 3 and DX11.