3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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The New Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 (Kepler) Finally Making an Appearance

March 22nd, 2012 · 16 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

Nvidia has just officially announced their new flagship GPU, the GeForce GTX 680 based on the new Kepler architecture and manufactured using 28nm process. The video cards based on the new graphics processors offer increased performance over the previous generation of Fermi and the flagship GTX 580 as well as numerous improvements and new features. Below I’ve prepared a short list of thee specifications of the new GTX 680 GPU as compared to the previous GTX 580 single GPU flagship from Nvidia, so you can easily compare what has changed.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 Specifications:

Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 680 2GB
Graphics Processing Clusters: 4
Streaming Multiprocessors: 8 -8
CUDA Cores: 1536 +1024
Texture Units: 128 +64
ROP Units: 32 -16
Graphics Clock: 1006 MHz +234
GPU Boost Clock: 1058 MHz
Memory Clock (Data rate): 6008 MHz +2000
L2 Cache Size: 512KB -256
Total Video Memory: 2048MB GDDR5 +512
Memory Interface: 256-bit -128
Total Memory Bandwidth: 192.26 GB/s -0.14
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear): 128.8 GigaTexels/sec +79.4
Fabrication Process: 28 nm
Transistor Count: 3.54 Billion +0.54
Connectors: Dual-Link DVI-I, Dual-Link DVI-D, HDMI 1.4 High Speed, DisplayPort 1.2
Form Factor: Dual Slot
Power Connectors: 2x 6-pin
Thermal Design Power (TDP): 195 Watts -49
Thermal Threshold: 98 degrees C
Bus Interface: PCI Express 3.0

* The superscript numbers in green and red show the change as compared to the specs of GTX 580.

I don’t want to go too much into detail about changes in the new Kepler architecture, as I’m sure not a lot of people are actually interested too much into such technical details. I just want to mention a few things and then will go to the more interesting part, namely the new features that the GTX 680 offers over the previous generation. There has been a significant change in the basic modules that build-up the GPU in the Kepler and as a result you get more CUDA cores and there is no more a separate shader clock available, there is just one clock frequency for the GPU, although there are changes in how it functions as well. And while the number of CUDA cores has been essentially tripled you should not expect to get three times the performance of a GTX 580 with a single GTX 680, as there are other important things that are responsible for the overall performance that a video card can provide… there are the Texture and ROP units as well, and then there is the memory frequency and bandwidth. Looking at the specs of the new GTX 680 you may notice that the operating frequency of the memory chips has been increased significantly, but the width of the memory bus has been reduced, so essentially the memory bandwidth remains pretty much the same as it was with the GTX 580. So instead of tripling the performance you should expect something more like 1.5x up to 2x the performance of the previous generations of GPU, depending on the usage scenario of course, although that would require some extra testing to confirm, especially when using in stereo 3D mode.

And now a it for some of the new features. One interesting thing is the GPU Boost functionality that is supposed to control in real time the operating frequency of your graphics processor, so that it can maximize the performance you get whenever you need it. Automatically increasing the working frequency of the GPU when a certain application is not optimally loading the graphics card, so you can squeeze some more performance. And since the GPU Boost cannot be disabled by the user, it will ultimately change the way you overclock the video card, especially considering that there are no more two different frequencies for the GPU anymore. And while you cannot disable the GPU Boost, you can control how it works, making you get the most out of your video card in terms of performance even when you overclock it. But thanks to the GPU Boost function and the extra electronics used to monitor the current utilization, temperature and power consumption of the GTX 680 you also get some neat new extras such as the ability to limit the maximum framerate in a 3D application to lets say 60 or 120 fps (NVIDIA Frame Rate Target). So you can look at the GPU Boost as not only something that can help you get the most out of your GPU, but also a function that can help you save power and resources when you actually don’t need them. Because when you limit the maximum framerate there is usually no need for the video card to use all of its processing power to maintain that framerate and thus it will run cooler and more silent.

Another new thing is the improvement in the Anti-Aliasing modes that you get at your disposal in order to get rid of the jaggies and get smoother looking image in games. Aside from the FXAA mode that is also supported, the new GTX 680s introduce the two new TXAA modes that bring better quality AA than MSAA with less performance hit. Another interesting new feature is the Adaptive VSync that can help you smooth out the transitions when the framerate drops below a certain level, something that with no VSync or with normal VSync usually leads to tearing of the image. And while Adaptive VSync may not be able to completely eliminate the tearing when framerate drops significantly it can help reduce it greatly making it not so apparent and even hardly noticeable if you are not paying special attention in most of the cases. So another good thing if you are a gamer and going for GTX 680 if you are not a gamer may seem like something a bit pointless to do.

And here comes another very interesting new feature – the Single GPU 3D Vision Surround. Since the GeForce GTX 680 is now capable of driving four independent monitors at the same time you are now able to create a 3D Vision Surround with just a single video card, no more need of at least two GPUs in SLI to drive the 3D Vision Surround. Have in mind though that the GTX 680 has Dual-Link DVI-I, Dual-Link DVI-D, DisplayPort 1.2 a HDMI 1.4 High Speed interfaces. Obviously you can’t use the HDMI 1.4 HS interface for a 3D Vision Surround setup, so the third display needs to be connected either through the DisplayPort or with a DP to DL-DVI adapter. The HDMI 1.4 High Speed interface should be capable of providing more than the 1080p 24Hz 3D mode that the normal HDMI 1.4 interface currently supports, however you would also require a 3D monitor supporting it and there are still no such consumer products available apparently. There are also some improvements in the Surround support, for example you can use a fourth accessory display together with the surround for showing your email for example or something else while playing, although switching to that monitor can be a bit tricky. Also you finally get the taskbar displayed only on the center display when using a Surround setup, and the ability to maximize windows only in a single display and not on all three (user selectable) and these are apart of software improvements actually, so you should be getting them available on older hardware as well. There is also a new Bezel Peek function to allow you to briefly see in-game menus or objects that may appear hidden due to the use of bezel correction by using a hotkey, there is also faster display acceleration when using only a single display in a surround setup as well as an improvement in the list of resolutions you get active when using a Surround setup, so you will not be bothered by a huge list resolutions that you need to go through. One thing that I’ve almost missed is the DirectX 11.1 support, but should you actually care that it is supported by the hardware, not really at the moment as it is nothing major for now.

The new GeForce GTX 680 from Nvidia is definitely a good improvement not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of new features that can help you get the most out of your gaming experience, including in stereoscopic 3D mode as well. It is more powerful and more energy efficient as compared to the previous generation and brings some new useful features that are surely going to be interesting for gamers. The new GeForce GTX 680 should be available with a price of about $499 USD already and I hope to be able to soon get the card to test and provide you with some benchmarks of the 680 in stereoscopic 3D mode, so stay tuned for more about that…

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Nvidia has Announced New Series 600 Mobile Kepler and Fermi GPUs

March 22nd, 2012 · 6 Comments · General 3D News

After some the time waiting for the next generation of graphics chips Nvidia has finally announced their new Series 600 full range of mobile GPUs, but it appears not all of them will be based on the new Kepler architecture. Those new GPUs include Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M, GeForce GTX 670M, and GeForce GTX 660M in the enthusiast segment; GeForce GT 650M, GeForce GT 640M, GeForce GT 640M LE, GeForce GT 635M in the performance segment and GeForce GT 620M in the mainstream segment. And the 610M based on the older Fermi architecture has been available already for a while in notebooks, so it is nothing new actually. These new graphics processors should be starting to make their way in the latest offerings from different laptop makers, with Acer being the first on the market with their Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook that comes based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform and is equipped with GeForce GT 640M GPU. But there should soon be others coming with the next generation mobile platform from Intel expected to be released very soon…

But what is so interesting about this new Acer Aspire M3 Ultrabook? Well, the fact that this is actually the first Ultrabook to come on the market with a discrete GPU on-board and not only with integrated graphics in the CPU. And the GeForce GT 640M has 384 processor cores running at 625 MHz with 1GB memory making it pretty fast for a mobile graphics chip, so you can actually get the best of both worlds – mobility and performance. Te new GeForce GT 640M comes as a replacement for the previous generation 540M Fermi GPU, bringing significant performance increase and making you able to play most recent games in High detail levels. The laptop comes with support for Nvidia’s Optimus technology bringing extended battery life (up to 8 hours according to specs) when the extra graphics power is not required. And now the not so good news, while the GPU supports 3D Vision and 3DTV Play, the fact that the laptop uses Optimus is still kind of making the laptop unable to work with external HDMI 1.4 3D displays in stereo 3D mode. I was hoping that Nvidia was finally able to make the Optimus technology play nice with 3D Vision and 3DTV Play, but it seems we’ll have to wait some more for that to happen, hoping that it will actually happen. And while the 640M does support both 3DTV Play and 3D Vision, there are two GPUs from the mobile 600 Series that according to Nvidia will not support them, these are the mainstream models GeForce GT 620M and GeForce 610M. There is some light in the tunnel though, I’ve noticed “Optimus for 3D Vision” mentioned for an upcoming laptop from Toshiba that will be featuring GeForce GTX 670M GPU. And while that laptop will probably have a 3D-capable display it is interesting to see what Nvidia has done to make 3D Vision play nice with Optimus in the Toshiba Qosmio X870.

Now, moving on to a bit more details about what the new Series 600 mobile GPUs from Nvidia will be, the top two high-end models GeForce GTX 675M, GeForce GTX 670M all be based on a revised Fermi architecture, so no Kepler here unfortunately and the bit slower GeForce GTX 660M will be the highest-end mobile Kepler product for now. We’ll probably have to wait some more for a really high-end model, probably 680M to be released, hopefully based on the Kepler architecture as the difference in terms of performance between these three GPUs most likely isn’t that high, considering that their specifications are quite close to each other.

Moving on to GeForce GT 650M and GeForce GT 640M, GeForce GT 640M LE and GeForce GT 635M. The GT 650M and 640M are based on the 28nm Kepler architecture, while GT 640M LE will apparently have a Fermi and a Kepler version making it more confusing for the users while the GT 635M will be a Fermi-based chip. Looking at the specs of the GeForce GT 650M and GeForce GT 640M they seem to be not that much lower compared than the higher-end models above.

And moving to the lower-end products GeForce GT 630M and GeForce GT 620M we can see something else interesting – they are both based on Fermi architecture, but the GT 630M will have a 28 and 40 nm versions while the GT 620M will be only available in a 28 nm chip.

And from all the new announced so far laptops that will be featuring the new mobile GPUS from Nvidia the Toshiba Qosmio X870 seems to be the only interesting model for anyone interested in getting a mobile 3D-capable solution. If you remember, Toshiba was eager to announce the Qosmio X870 earlier this month, but without revealing much details about the GPU and CPU. And now we know it will feature the GeForce GT 670M, so definitely a higher-end 17.3-inch mobile solution meant for gamers and enthusiasts. Hopefully more laptop makers will have mobile 3D-capable solutions based on the new GPUs from Nvidia as even the GeForce GT 640M can handle quite well games in stereo 3D mode on a 1366×768 resolution display, much better than a 540M can. And hopefully with the new GPUs introduced we are also finally going to be seeing some interesting ultra-portable laptops with 3D display coming in up to 13-14-inch display size as well, but the last one is just wishful thinking.

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Toshiba Qosmio X870 3D-capable Gaming Laptop Coming Soon

March 14th, 2012 · No Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

Toshiba has announced an upcoming 17.3-inch gaming laptop in the form of Qosmio X870 that will be equipped with a 120Hz LCD panel and support Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology. What is interesting about this announcement is the fact that Toshiba does not yet announce what kind of GPU the laptop will have inside, they just say “Next generation NVIDIA GPUs”, neither they say what will be the CPU inside, just “Latest Intel processors”. This information, along with the fact that the Toshiba Qosmio X870 should be available from Q2 2012 means just one thing, this laptop should most likely be getting the much anticipated and rumored a lot mobile Kepler graphics along with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge mobile platform…

Toshiba Qosmio X870 details:

– Latest Intel processors
– Next generation NVIDIA GPUs
– 17.3″ (43.9cm) TruBrite Full HD screen with LED backlighting (1920x1080p, 16:9, 5ms response time)
– Up to 2TB hard drive or hybrid drive SSD option
– Optional Blu-ray ROM or DVD SuperMulti drives
– Resolution+ upscaling technology
– 4x USB 3.0 including 2x Sleep-and-Charge USB
– HDMI, RGB connectivity
– Gigabit Ethernet LAN
– Bluetooth 4.0
– Dedicated headphone port & microphone port with Sleep-and-Music
– Full HD web camera with Face Recognition
– Red backlit tiled keyboard
– Large clickpad with multi-touch control
– Harman Kardon stereo speakers with Slip Stream technology, SRS Premium Sound 3D

And apart from using a 120Hz Full HD LCD panel, bundles with 3D Vision active shutter glasses, the new mobile gaming solution from Toshiba should also come with HDMI 1.4 support for use with 3D HDTVs and 2D to 3D conversion functionality for DVD movies. It has not been yet revealed if the Toshiba Qosmio X870 laptop will feature a second generation of 3D Vision glasses and if the display will be supporting the 3D Lightboost technology. And considering the fact that Toshiba did not actually have a lot to say about the most important specs of the laptop you’d think that they should’ve at least used the opportunity to talk about these features. So we’ll have to wait for the official release of the laptop to get the full details and meanwhile I’m still wondering what did Toshiba tell us all with this announcement, aside from the fact that they plan to release a new 3D Vision-ready gaming laptop… not much actually.

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