There are two things that are common occurrences in Silicon Valley, chip launches and earthquakes. Ironically, earthquakes and chip launches are very similar in that they both hit with a primary wave and are followed by secondary waves. Over the past two months both AMD and Nvidia launch new products but we are anticipating the next cards from each company in different fashion. Last month Nvidia released its GeForce GTX 580 flagship product to the market and are waiting for mid-range and entry level cards. On the other hand, we are still expecting AMD’s high end Cayman based graphics cards sometime soon. Today we get to look at the first step down from the Nvidia flagship, GeForce GTX 570.
In a “typical” product delivery cycle, we see a major development once a year followed by launches of products to fill each price point (High-end/Enthusiast, mid-range, value and entry level cards). These subsequent launches are normally the result of a "binned" chip filling a specific price point. Since not all chips make it through the manufacturing process the same, manufacturers sort chips based on a set of performance and imperfection criteria. "Grade A" chips become high-end parts while those that can't sustain the high clock rates get moved to the next product category. Chips can also be set aside if they contain small defects. These subsequent parts ship as a new product with either lower clock frequencies and/or have some of their functional units disabled.
This is where we find ourselves today. GeForce GTX 570 is based on the same GF110 core architecture as GeForce GTX 580 but is shipping with less functional units and slower clock frequencies. Some might want to call it GTX 480 2.0, but that would be a misrepresentation. Since it is based on GF110, it has all of the architectural improvements that Nvidia made when going from GF100, then GF104, and ultimately to GF110. So what does this mean in layman’s terms? It means that it should be quieter, cooler, more power efficient and just as powerful if not more so than GTX 480 but less than a GTX 580.