Rapid progress in development of new CPUs and GPUs means that we receive more performance and features in a short period of time. Higher-end CPUs progress so quickly that high-end processors move to mainstream or even low-end market segment in about 12 months time after the release. Graphics processors are also very complex nowadays and their development pace amazes; even less than in a year higher-end products usually either move to lower-end segment or are discontinued and new solutions with the same performance but lower costs appears. There is also the reverse side of this “coin”: modern microprocessors and graphics chips are extremely hard to make, they consume a lot of power and require hundreds of millions dollars on research and development. I believe I do not have to tell you about AMD’s x86-64 processors that were postponed a number of times in the past; I also think you understand all the efforts made by NVIDIA to make its NV3x line of graphics processors. Well, more challenges are ahead: as Ace’s Hardware web-site reports, NVIDIA plans to launch GPUs with power consumption of 120W in the near future.
According to the report that quotes the product manager of the nForce core-logic products, graphics processors with 120W and possibly higher heat dissipation are expected to come in the near future. No details about what they mean by “near future”, but keeping in mind that the GeForce FX 5800 GPU consumes up to 75W, I would suggest that the NV40 GPU to be released later this year will dissipate 120W of heat. As NV35 implements 130 million of transistors, up 5 million from the GeForce FX 5800, provided that this figure is right I do not think that this part may consume 60% more energy.
Reportedly, NVIDIA was actively researching SOI and even Germanium oxide to reduce power requirements, but since NVIDIA does not have its own fab there is very little sense for the company to invest heavily in such advanced semiconductor manufacturing technologies. So, now NVIDIA is mostly concentrated on powerful cooling solutions rather than on advanced process technologies. On the other hand, when its GPUs are too complex, the Santa Clara, California-based GPU developer may change its manufacturing partner on the company who will be able to make chips using advanced technologies, such as SOI. Currently only IBM produces SOI chips, while AMD plans to start mass-production of more or less mainstream CPUs using SOI technology only later this year.