GeForce GTX 480 And 470: From Fermi And GF100 To Actual Cards!

Nvidia’s GF100 Gets Scaled Back

We presented the GF100 GPU, based on Nvidia’s Fermi architecture, back in January. At the time, we forecasted the potential for a 2x performance boost transitioning from GT200-based cards like the GeForce GTX 285 to a GF100-based flagship. Of course, that was also based on the assumption we’d be seeing graphics cards equipped with the complete GF100. As it turns out, that isn’t the case.

In its full form, the three billion transistor GF100 features 512 CUDA cores (derived from four Graphics Processing Clusters [GPCs], each with four Streaming Multiprocessors [SMs], and each of those sporting 32 CUDA cores). But the GeForce GTX 480 employs 480 CUDA cores, while the GTX 470 is armed with 448—32-core drops in each case. Nvidia achieves this by disabling one of the GTX 480’s SMs and two of the GTX 470’s.

Because each SM also contains its own texture units and PolyMorph engine (the fixed-function logic responsible for the architecture’s exceptional geometry performance), both new cards sacrifice performance in those two areas, as well. The GeForce GTX 480 retains 60 texture units (down from 64) and 15 PolyMorph engines, while the GeForce GTX 470 offers 56 texture units and 14 PolyMorph engines.

GF100’s back-end is of course independent of the GPCs, so even with its scaled-back GeForce GTX 480 configuration, Nvidia is able to maintain all six ROP partitions. Each partition is capable of outputting eight 32-bit integer pixels at a time, totaling 48 pixels per clock. The GeForce GTX 470 isn’t as lucky; it loses one of the ROP partitions (dropping total pixels per clock to 40).

A complete GF100, with all of its ROP partitions intact, sports a 384-bit GDDR5 memory interface (one 64-bit interface per partition). The GeForce GTX 480 comes to the table with this exact configuration, serving up 256MB per interface for a total of 1.536GB of GDDR5 memory (that’s 177 GB/s, when you take the 924 MHz clock rate into account). Naturally, the GeForce GTX 470 gives some of that up. Its 320-bit interface plays host to 1.28GB of GDDR5 at a lower 837 MHz clock rate, which adds up to nearly 134 GB/s.

So there you have it. We’re looking at the same graphics processor presented back in January. As a result of yield issues, however, Nvidia’s new flagship and second-in-command are forced to employ a scaled-back version of the chip. While we’re certainly not expecting to multiply the performance of GeForce GTX 285 anymore, these should still compete aggressively with AMD’s Radeon HD 5870 and 5850 cards. Speaking of cards…

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  • infra
    Great review guys! As for GTX 470/480 - It's not as bad as I expected.The cards show some pretty decent numbers compared to 5870 even without its tessellation power used to its best.Perhaps next-gen Fermi will be a true champion - power and heat will be optimized and games will use the architecture of the GPU to its full potential.All in all it's a great architecture, maybe a bit ahead of it's time if you ask me.
  • Anonymous
    Power hungry, noisy, the fight is on. Glad I got the 5870. The driver-updates will see us through.
  • N19h7M4r3
    Power consuption is really high, but i think that efficiency if actually pretty good, but in the end what will matter is $$$ and not everyone will pay to have the best card on the block.
  • Dandalf
    Do we expect AMD to drop its prices in response? Don’t count on it.

    Dammit I was waiting for these cards SOLELY so ATI drop their prices! Aaaarrgghhh
  • Anonymous
    5000 series will keep their prices for a long time
  • mapleo
    Fermi could be a tragedy in NV's history.
    It seems I have to use HD5870 untill HD6870 or GTX580 release.
  • memeroot
    looks god if it came out 6 months back.... as a 3d vision fan thoug it looks like another wait for the right card
  • Dandalf
    Thanks for translation Rabid, wish i saw it before I started rating him down as a bot :| oops
  • Anonymous
    GTX480 buy it!!! Send stove!!! sorry my english is poor!!!
    Wow!!!!!! It's the fastest single GPU card on the planet. And it's a toaster oven and space heater too. What will Nvidia think of next?

    I wonder if it will qualify for any exemptions under forthcoming "cap and trade" regulations?
  • FanterA
    it should also be noted that for UK customers (like myself) that a 5870 can be had for less than the asking price of a 470, and for the prices on the 480, you could have a pair of 5850s in crossfire. Add to this the heat and power concerns, and i think I'll forgo Thermi and get another 5850 when I deem it necessary. so glad i didn't wait :D
  • mapleo

    I'm not a fan for any brand. I only choose products base on my needs. That's my point.
  • Anonymous
    haha Fermi you are out!!
  • carlos0248

    I thought the GTX480 just like editor said that the best performance but the price and power consumption was higher. Don't count it can cause ait drop their price.
  • Anonymous
    It's a true fact that NV is always good at Games becouse of its "way" plan. Viedo card is often used to play video games after all.
  • goozaymunanos
    sod this..i'm gonna buy a 5850..

    the GTX470 should be retailing at £250.


    p.s. stuff & nonsense:
  • marney_5
    How much are the Fermi cards in the US again? On overclockers UK the 480 prices around £450! Where the 5870 is around £320! Is this correct? Because Fermi is sh*t value if its only slightly faster and £100 extra!

    I only waited for this card so the ATI prices would go down!!! Dammit!
  • my_jacks
    Sparkle GeForce GTX 480 1536MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
    £445.99 (inc VAT)

    Sparkle GeForce GTX 470 1280MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
    £309.99 (inc VAT)

    Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5970 2048MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
    £499.99 (inc VAT)

    Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
    £299.99 (inc VAT)

    Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5850 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
    £220.99 (inc VAT)

    - Overclockers UK (29/3/10)
  • 13thmonkey
    what happens to power and heat if v-sync is on, i.e. if the card can do 120+ fps on a game but is limited to 60fps by v-sync, does that reduce the power and thermals as it is only calculating 50% of the frames.

    I assume it calculates a frame, waits for 60hz refresh (idles) displays it, calcs another one waits (idles), calcs another one, etc.

    or does it just calc and calc and calc and then show the one frame that was most recently completed on the refresh, then calc calc calc and show the most recent on the refresh, ignoring the results of the nondisplayed calcs.
  • damian86
    ATI is still being your 'daddy'