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Old 05-03-12, 10:10 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Nvidia releases GeForce GTX 690: Twice the power, twice the price (ExtremeTech)

Speaking the GeForce LAN/Nvidia Game Festival in Shanghai, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has unveiled the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690. The new card will be available in limited quantities from May 3, and then larger supplies from Nvidia's partners (Asus, EVGA, MSI, Gigabyte, and so on) will be available from May 7. The list price is a jaw-dropping $999.

For the most part, the GTX 690 is simply two 28nm GK104 Kepler chips on the same card, linked together by a PCIe 3.0 switch from PLX. The GK104 was first seen on the GTX 680, where it was clocked 1006MHz, but the two GPUs on the GTX 690 are clocked slightly lower at 915MHz. The memory clock remains unchanged at 1502MHz (6GHz effective), with each GPU being wired into its own 2GB bank of RAM (for a total of 4GB) with separate 256-bit memory buses.

Quite uncharacteristically for a release of this caliber, reviewers (including ExtremeTech) haven't actually received the new card yet ' so take the following numbers with a grain of salt. Judging by various graphs provided by Nvidia, the GTX 690 is between 25% and 90% faster than the GTX 680. According to one graph, a single GTX 690 can play Battlefield 3 at 2560?1600 with 4xAA/16xAF at 70 fps. With two GTX 690s in SLI (so, four GK104s working in beauteous unison) BF3 jumps up to 120 fps.

In other news, the GTX 690 also features a rather fancy heatsink and fan assembly, which is apparently fairly quiet.

Where does this leave AMD? Well, the Radeon HD 7990 (the dual-GPU version of the HD 7970) is due to be released at Computex in June ' so in that regard, Nvidia has at least a month head start. The GTX 680 beat out the HD 7970 in most benchmarks, so the 7990 is unlikely to beat out the 690 ' unless AMD manages to bump the clockspeed considerably, which is unlikely. A single HD 7970 has a TDP of 250W, compared to the GTX 680?s relatively demure 195W. Nvidia claims that the GTX 690 has a TDP of just 300 watts ' some 20% below its GTX 590 predecessor, and probably way, way below AMD's incoming HD 7990. For this generation at least, it would seem that Nvidia has won the absolute, money-is-no-object, single-card performance crown.

On the flip side, the AMD cards still have a larger memory bus (384-bit vs. 256), which might give the HD 7990 an edge on ultra-high-resolution workloads ' but we'll have to wait and see. We will have some hands-on coverage of the GTX 690 on Thursday, so be sure to check back then.

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