NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 Review

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: November 8, 2010
Product Name: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
Part Number: N/A
Warranty: N/A
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GF110; Something Old, Something Borrowed….

At the heart of the GTX 580 beats a revised GF100 core which has been christened GF110 for this somewhat new generation of products. Since most of the features are the same between the two cores, we invite you to visit our dedicated GF100 article where we go into all of the advancements the Fermi architecture brings to the table. This section meanwhile will used to discussing the new items NVIDIA has built into the GF110 which allow it to outpace the older series on a number of levels.

One of NVIDIA’s main focuses for the GF110 was to increase the overall performance per watt over past iterations of Fermi. As it stood the GTX 480 was and still is a massively powerful card but it hit up against a power consumption wall due to a number of inefficiencies within the architecture.

To address some of the inherent power consumption issues Fermi exhibited, NVIDIA basically rearranged their layout so more of the faster, higher leakage transistors were placed on the critical rendering paths instead of being used for periphery tasks. Meanwhile, the slower low leakage transistors were placed where speed wasn’t a primary concern.

Strategically distributing the transistors in this way allows for a small speed-up in overall rendering performance. More importantly it also means the fastest transistors will now be fully utilized instead of being used for non critical tasks and thus lowering overall performance per watt.

From a high-level architectural standpoint, not much has changed between the GF100 and the GF110. The layout still features 512 CUDA cores, 64 Texture Units, 48 ROPs and six 64-bit GDDR5 memory controllers along with a hefty count of 3 billion transistors.

Where the GF110 differs from the GF100 is its ability to feature higher clock speeds while enabling all 16 Streaming Multiprocessors without pushing astronomical power consumption figures. This means the new flagship GTX 580 will finally feature the full 512 cores many were hoping to see from the GTX 480.

By enabling this extra SM, the GTX 580 gains more than just 32 CUDA cores. Four additional texture units along with their associated cache structure are also added to the equation but the most important addition-for DX11 apps at least- is the single PolyMorph Engine which is attached to the SM. The extra tessellator contained in this unit could go a long way towards helping out with the higher tessellation workloads which second generation DX11 games will feature.

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