Finally, after months of waiting, Nvidia has announced that two of its Fermi chips will be released at the end of March – but, to sate eager customers, the Californian firm has been busy churning out some new parts.
Except that they’re not new in the strictest definition of the word.
Instead, Nvidia has merely rebranded some of its older chips with bigger numbers for the benefit of OEMs – and to the detriment of people who’d naturally think that a GT 340 was more capable than the GT 240 or a GTX 295. Presumably, it’s an attempt to eke as much cash out of these older cores before the much-delayed Fermi arrives.
Take, for instance, the GeForce 310, which is the same part as the GeForce 210 and, consequently, uses the same GT218 core. Nvidia has even used the exact same picture for both of these GPUs on its website.
The GeForce 310 has been around since November 2009, though, and so Nvidia has partnered its sole GeForce 300-series chip with four new parts. The GeForce 315 shares the same GT216 core with the GT 220, and the GT 340, the most powerful part of this “new” series, appears to be the GT 240 with a new sticker – after all, both these parts share a virtually identical specification.
The GeForce 315 and GT 340 sandwich a couple of parts which can trace their lineage back even further. The GT 320 and GT 330 both used the G92b core, which was also used for the GTS 240 and GTS 250 and, before that, was used – albeit with small tweaks – to power four GT 100-series parts, all of which were OEM-only.
The G92b and its variants are even older: six parts in the GeForce 9000-series used this chip, with the oldest making its debut March 2008.
Remarkably, that wasn’t the first appearance of the G92 core, which was introduced way back in October 2007 inside the 65nm-based GeForce 8800 GT – a card that was quick at the time but has evidently aged badly: its score of 26fps in our High-quality Crysis benchmark is now almost tripled by the likes of the ATI Radeon HD 5870, which scored 66fps in the same test.
So, that’s the same core, tweaked, revised and reduced, for almost two and a half years. It’s no surprise that ATI has entirely taken over the A List thanks to its Radeon HD 4000 and HD 5000-series chips, which have consistently innovated.
In the meantime, though, these rebranded parts are OEM-only and aren’t likely to appease any customers who have grown weary of Nvidia’s stagnant strategy in the run-up to Fermi’s release. If you’re as confused as us about the origins of some of Nvidia’s latest GPUs, we’ve put together a handy flow-chart illustrating the origins of the G92 – after all, we’ve had plenty of time on our hands.
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