Today, NVIDIA finally unleashes their high-performance GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. NVIDIA’s latest graphics cards feature the second generation Maxwell architecture which is the most advanced GPU ever built by NVIDIA featuring great performance and delivering higher efficiency in terms of power input. The Maxwell architecture revolutionizes the graphics industry setting new standards for NVIDIA gamers and fans.
NVIDIA Unleashes Maxwell GM204 Based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 Graphics Cards
We have waited for several years for Maxwell to hit the market. While NVIDIA initially released the first core as the GM107 which was based on the first generation architecture design, the GM204 is based on the latest and improved, second generation Maxwell core architecture which adopts some new technologies. So before we go talk about the cards, let’s take a recap of the architectural details we have come to know about GM204.
NVIDIA GM204 GPU Architecture
The GM204 is the heart of the next generation GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards. The chip makes use of the second generation Maxwell core architecture that has faster per core performance than first generation Maxwell based chips (GM107) which were released with the GeForce GTX 750 and GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics cards and has several new features which deliver better performance and great power efficiency making GeForce GTX 980 one of the most efficient flagship offering in history. NVIDIA has changed since their Kepler generation of cards. Before Kepler, NVIDIA was known to release cards which ran hot and consumed a ton of power and the failure rates of the previous generation cards were pretty high. Though, NVIDIA did manage to release some great cards over the period, the G80 based GeForce 8000 GTX and the price/performance king, GTX 460 are still considered one of the greatest NVIDIA cards that came to market.
Kepler changed certain things, NVIDIA moved away from their branding scheme where users were able to buy HPC chips rebranded for the GeForce audience. The first Kepler GPU, the GK104 was branded as the GeForce card and while it was fast, it wasn’t the fastest compared to another chip which NVIDIA had in their hands for over a year. I am talking about the GK110 which was geared towards the professional market such as the Tesla super computer. The GK110 did launch a year later but it since then, NVIDIA has configured their core lineup to span two generations, one with the gaming minded chip and the follow up would be the full fledged HPC chip. There’s a reason for NVIDIA to advertise the GeForce GTX Titan Z as a professional and gaming card even though it clearly has a GeForce name in its branding. The Titan Z makes use of two GK110 chips which are the compute crunching beasts compared to the GK104 which focused on gaming features by excluding all the non essential features such as compute. So while the GM104 based GTX 980 will obviously replace GK110 based GTX 780 Ti in branding, the real comparison in branding should be GM104 versus the GK104. Regardless of this, the GTX 980 is a superb card which beats GK110 on an existing process node.