Nvidia Introduces New "Fermi" Graphics Cards

"You guys have been amazingly patient," Drew Henry, general manager of Nvidia's GeForce business, told an audience full of hardcore gamers and PC enthusiasts. "We chose to do something new and different and exciting because we wanted you guys to have a great experience with a lot of the next generation games that people are building."

Henry quickly introduced the GTX 480 graphics card to much applause. "This is without a doubt the best GPU we've ever built," Henry said. "It's got a crapload of performance. This has got to be one of the coolest GPUs we've ever done or the industry has ever had."

The GTX 480 boasts a 700 MHz graphics clock speed, 1.5 GB of onboard GDDR5 memory, and 480 shader processors. All in all, Henry said the new graphics card will two times the performance of Nvidia's previous generation GeForce GTX 285 GPU.

The new card also has a processor clock speed of 1.4 MHz and a memory clock speed of 1.8 MHz, with full DirectX 11 support as well as Nvidia's 3D Vision Surround capability. Henry showed off a number of new PC games, such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Metro 2033, running on the GTX 480 in 3D mode. "We think the PC can lead the whole [3D] industry," Henry said.

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While Henry didn't mention chief graphics rival AMD, which has surged past Nvidia with its DX11-capable Radeon HD 5000 series GPUs, he did take a shot at Nvidia's current nemesis Intel; Henry told the audience the GTX 480 had a whopping 3 billion transistors, which was roughly the equivalent to four Intel Core i7 processors. "It's the most complicated processor we've ever built," he said of the new Fermi GPU.

Henry said the GTX 480 and its slightly lower-powered "little brother" GTX 470 will go on sale in about 14 days. The GTX 480 will be priced at $499, while the GTX 470 will cost $349.