|NVIDIA GF100 GPU Fermi Graphics Architecture|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 18 January 2010|
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NVIDIA GF100 GPU Fermi Architecture
The CPU is nearly obsolete. At least that's the way it looks when you understand how quickly GPU's have matured to overtake CPU evolution. While the list of processor manufacturers numbers into the hundreds, most personal computer enthusiasts are concerned with the Central Processing Unit (CPU). It's true that CPU's have long enjoyed the attention of overclockers and hardware enthusiasts while less-powerful audio, network, and storage processors work in the background, yet it is the GPU that handles everything we see displayed from our computer system. Gamers rely on powerful graphics adapters to deliver the fast frame rates needed to enjoy high-performance video games, and everyone else needs graphics processing power to enjoy movies and multimedia. But the term 'video game' is coming extremely close to being a liternal interpretation: games are in fact becoming closer to filmed video footage than ever before.
NVIDIA's latest GPU is codenamed GF100, and is the first graphics processor based on the Fermi architecture. In this article, Benchmark Reviews explains the technical architecture behind NVIDIA's GF100 graphics processor and offers an insight into upcoming Fermi-based GeForce video cards. For those who are not familiar, NVIDIA's GF100 GPU is their first graphics processor to support DirectX-11 hardware features such as tessellation and DirectCompute, while also adding heavy particle and turbulence effects. The GF100 GPU is also the successor to the GT200 graphics processor, which launched in the GeForce GTX 280 video card back in June 2008. NVIDIA has since redefined their focus, and GF100 proves a dedication towards next generation gaming effects such as raytracing, order-independent transparency, and fluid simulations. Rest assured, the new GF100 GPU is more powerful than the GT200 could ever be, and early results indicate a Fermi-based video card delivers far more than twice the gaming performance over a GeForce GTX-280.
New products are expected to get better with each new revision, but it amazes me how different the end-goals appear to be between CPU manufacturers such as Intel when compared to a GPU manufacturer such as NVIDIA. While Intel keeps loading their processors with a growing cache buffer and refining the fabrication process to achieve higher speeds, NVIDIA designs a GPU that is really made to compute to a higher level by increasing the number of actual processor cores in addition to the refining process. As of the GF100 GPU, NVIDIA delivers 512 processor cores, which now earn the term 'CUDA cores', compared to Intel's six (6) cores on the upcoming 'Gulftown' Core-i7 processor. I realize that we're comparing apples to oranges here, but the end goals are identical: higher performance. Remember this point as I near my conclusion, and you'll understand what the future holds for processor architecture.
NVIDIA Fermi GF100 Processor (click for high-resolution)
What's new in Fermi?
With any new technology, consumers want to know what's new in the product. The goal of this article is to share in-depth information surrounding the Fermi architecture, as well as the new functionality unlocked in GF100. For clarity, the 'GF' letters used in the GF100 GPU name are not an abbreviation for 'GeForce'; they actually denote that this GPU is a Graphics solution based on the Fermi architecture. The next generation of NVIDIA GeForce-series desktop video cards will use the GF100 to promote the following new features:
About NVIDIA Corporation:
NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA) is the world leader in visual computing technologies and the inventor of the GPU, a high-performance processor which generates breathtaking, interactive graphics on workstations, personal computers, game consoles, and mobile devices. NVIDIA serves the entertainment and consumer market with its GeForce products, the professional design and visualization market with its Quadro products, and the high-performance computing market with its Tesla products. These products are transforming visually-rich and computationally-intensive applications such as video games, film production, broadcasting, industrial design, financial modeling, space exploration, and medical imaging.
NVIDIA Product Lines
GeForce - GPUs dedicated to graphics and video.
Quadro - A complete range of professional solutions engineered to deliver breakthrough performance and quality.
Tesla - A massively-parallel multi-threaded architecture for high-performance computing problems.