If you’ve been following the recent history of 3D graphics hardware, you should be aware that the GeForce GTX 480 card was not born easily. Nvidia’s first GPU with the Fermi architecture was released in a cut-down configuration. It is only at the end of 2010 that the company offered the GF110, the improved version of the original GF100 processor. The new chip was actually what the GF100 should have been from the very beginning. The GeForce GTX 580 and GTX 570 graphics cards based on it did very well in our gaming tests.
It was clear, however, that Nvidia wouldn’t stop at that in replacing the GeForce 400 with the GeForce 500 series. The GeForce GTX 460 was the next candidate for substitution. It must be noted here that GF104-based products had proved more successful than the senior GeForce 400 series models with the GF100 chip. The GF104 was simpler and cheaper to make and it could filter FP16 textures at full speed.
As a result, the GF104-based GeForce GTX 460 card in two varieties with 768 MB and 1 GB of onboard memory enjoyed a happy life without any competition in the $199-229 category. The availability of numerous factory-overclocked versions was an indication of the high potential of the GF104 chip which, by the way, had one secret. There were only seven active multiprocessors in it although it actually contained eight. That is, the GF104 had 336 active ALUs and 56 active TMUs although physically incorporated 384 ALUs and 64 TMUs.
The GF104 doesn’t seem to have been plagued by the problems of the GF100, yet Nvidia must have wanted to bring the new chip to market as soon as possible and ensured a high chip yield by reducing the chip’s configuration. Many reviewers supposed that the cut-down GF104 would be followed by a full-featured version, yet this has never happened during the life cycle of the GeForce 400 series.
It is only today, on January 25, that Nvidia unveils the successor to the GF104 together with a new performance-mainstream graphics card. It is the GF114 chip. Nvidia refers to the class of affordable but high-performance solutions as “Hunter” but we’d use a comparison with tanks. Flagship models priced at over $250 would be heavy tanks with the most powerful weapons which, however, cannot achieve the overall victory due to their limited number. It is the numerous mass-produced machines that win the battle as they combine simplicity with acceptable technical parameters.
The GeForce GTX 560 Ti is Nvidia’s new mainstream tank. We must confess the renewed use of suffixes in graphics card names is quite a surprise for us. “Ti” obviously stands for Titanium, suggesting superior consumer properties of the new product, but the use of various prefixes and suffixes brings us back to the far-away year of 2001 when this Ti suffix was first used in one of the GeForce 2 models. We guess the name “GeForce GTX 560” would be clear and sufficient.
Anyway, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti has arrived, so we are going to test it and see what it can do on the battlefield.