Nvidia’s release of the GF110 processor and the GeForce GTX 580 graphics card based on it has made the GF100 chip, the first one in the Fermi family, outdated. The revised and improved successor is superior to its predecessor from every aspect including performance, energy efficiency, and frequency potential. The new flagship has had a successful debut and deservedly grasped the title of the fastest single-processor graphics card in the world, but it takes more than a flagship to win a war. The GeForce GTX 580 cannot make it on its own, so Nvidia should begin a steady transition from the GeForce GTX 400 to 500 series.
As Nvidia offers highly successful GF104- and GF106-based products (GeForce GTX 460 and GTS 450, respectively) in the segment of affordable high-performance cards, the most likely candidate to be replaced first is the GeForce GTX 470 which uses a more cut-down version of the GF100 chip than the GeForce GTX 480. As you know from our reviews, the original GF100 was far from perfect as is indicated by the fact that it has never been used in its full configuration with 512 stream processors.
We can also suspect that the manufacturing cost of GF100-based products is far from perfect, too. This is especially true for the junior model which used some G100 chips that were rated for the senior GeForce GTX 480. Thus, replacing the GeForce GTX 470 with a new solution at the same price but with a new GPU, Nvidia aims to achieve three goals at once: 1) offer a new product in the below-$350 category, 2) get rid of the burdensome GeForce GTX 480, and 3) gain some ground until AMD announces its new Radeon HD 6900 series.
That’s the background behind the GeForce GTX 570 graphics card which continues Nvidia’s new 500 series. It was developed in the usual way by cutting down the GeForce GTX 580 specifications with the aim to achieve the performance of a GeForce GTX 480. Nvidia must have thought this maneuver feasible after polishing off its GF100 design as well as TSMC’s 40nm tech process. A certain share of GF110 chips which are not fit for the GeForce GTX 580 may be used in the less advanced product, which is the usual practice of both Nvidia and AMD/ATI.
The release of the GeForce GTX 570 and the phasing out of the GeForce GTX 480 and 470 are going to leave a gap in Nvidia’s product line-up, a place for a potential GeForce GTX 560. Such a card is likely to be based on a new-version GF104 chip with 384 active stream processors. The most likely name for the chip is GF114 and it may also be used for a GeForce GTX 590 if Nvidia dares produce a new dual-processor product. Well, we’re trying to look too far into the future. Let’s focus on the present for now.