Nvidia Launches GeForce 560 TI Graphics Card

Nvidia on Tuesday launched the GeForce GTX 560 TI mid-range graphics card, a product Nvidia says will rival AMD'S Radeon HD 6950 GPU, code-named Cayman.

Based off of the GF 114-based GPU, the GTX 560 is the follow-up to the GeForce GF-104-based GTX 460 card that launched in July. Justin Walker, Product Manager for Nvidia's GeForce product line, said the GTX 460 was one of Nvidia's best gaming GPUs to date and that the GTX 560 TI, which is based on an upgraded version of that GPU, builds on its success.

"The GTX 560 TI will bring a completely unrivaled amount of performance to this price point as well as a fantastic Direct X 11 upgrade," Walker said. "We'll also have overclocked versions of each of these cards."

Like the GTX 460, the GTX 560 TI includes two Graphics Processing Clusters (GPCs) and Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs), 32 ROP units, and 256-bit memory width. However, it includes 384 CUDA cores compared to 336 on the GTX 460 and 64 Texture Units compared to 56 on the GTX 460. The graphics clock now runs at 822MHz compared to 675MHz on the GTX 460, and the memory speed is 4 Gbps, up from 3.6Gbps on the GTX 460 card. The GTX 560 TI includes 1 GB of GDDR5 memory, the same as larger versions of the GTX 460.

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Walker said Nvidia has achieved a 21 percent performance-per-watt improvement with the GTX 560 TI. The GTI 560 TI is priced at $249, the same segment which AMD's Radeon HD 6950 Cayman GPU occupies.

"We re-engineered the GPU down to the transistor level," Walker said. "We're getting a 15 to 30 percent performance leap on some APIs."

Walker attributed the rapid advancements in GTX 400 and GTX 500 series products' processing power to the distributed tessellation architecture on Nvidia's Fermi reference design, which allows eight tessellation engines to run independently. The multiple engines allow five times the geometric processing power of the next competitors, Walker said.

Walker said the GTX 560 TI was also designed for overclocking, either by end users looking for a performance boost or partners building factory overclock designs. In fact, Walker said at least one GTX 560 TI card from Gigabyte has been overclocked to 1 GHz, and he expects to see more overclocked versions of Nvidia's new gaming GPU.

Next: Convincing Gamers To Upgrade

"I would expect all of our partners to come out with their own factory overclock design to increase performance beyond specification levels and warranty it," Walker said.

Walker said that the GTX 460 and 560 TI both offer great value in terms of price and performance and the advantage of cool and quiet processing.

Walker said that graphics manufacturers often gloss over the first step in the gamer's decision-making process: before determining which card to choose and how much to spend, the customer must decide to purchase a graphics card in the first place. Walker said Nvidia is changing its thought process toward helping gamers decide on the need for a graphics card, rather than simply differentiating their products.

"Folks tend to hold on to a graphics card for about three years" Walker said. "For gamers, saving up money to buy a new graphics card takes a while, and it’s a significant investment."

However, Walker cited a survey by Valve Stream issued in December that says 84 percent of gamers have yet to upgrade to Direct X11-capable cards. Walker said the adoption rate is now picking up and that if the current adoption trend continues in 2011, large numbers of gamers will upgrade due to the age of their cards and the allure of new Direct X11 content.

"2011 is going to be the year of Direct X11," Walker said.