Nvidia scrambles for GPU counterattack

Easter will bring more than eggs this year, as the two main discrete GPU manufacturers plan to launch enough graphics hardware to keep reviewers busy well into the Summer.

According to Digitimes, AMD is putting the trimmings on its HD 7950 mid-high range card which will, if all goes well, flood the market with a much more affordable version of the current king of the hill, the HD 7970. With any luck, and considering the current scarcity of 28nm, some of these might even be 7970s in disguise (and flashable).

Nvidia, fashionably late to the 28nm party, is arguing the case for better yields and process maturity rather than the very butch ‘first to market’ attitude. Geforce Kepler, or GK1xx will populate the entire price range top to bottom with what Nvidia hopes are Radeon-killer cards.

At the mid-high range Nvidia will a Geforce 560Ti replacement, based on the GK104 core, a GK106 chip for the mid-low range and a GK107 for the entry level. A dual GPU GK104 card (aka GK110) will also be released at the same time. Nvidia will save the best for last as, according to Digitimes, it will only release the GK112 high-end card closer to the end of the year, if not early 2013.

Word has, in the meantime, hit the web that Nvidia is scrambling something out the door before the scheduled April launch of its Kepler-based cards. According to the buzz on the Chiphell forums, Nvidia is pulling in the launch of one of its cards by a month.

Dubbed by forumistas “GTX 680”, it is a counter to AMD’s successful HD 7970, so the idea is to steal the thunder or at least cast enough doubt on loyal consumers to keep them hooked until Easter, where the (almost) entire line-up of Geforce 6xx series cards will populate shelves.

Considering the historical rejiggery that goes on when bridging two generations, it would stand to reason that a tweaked GTX 580, or GTX 585 if you wish, would be the order of the day rather than a 680. The card is said to sport 2GB of GDDR5 and clock in at 780MHz, and would face off directly against AMD’s HD 7970.

Nvidia is now looking a bit like Germany mid-WW2, just before backstabbing the Russkies.. its launch schedule will match both AMD’s HD 7950 and Intel’s launch of Ivy Bridge, so in fact, it will face off both companies on two different fronts. Jen Hsun must be pretty confident about his engineers.