After days and days of numerous leaks and speculations, NVIDIA has just officially announced their new Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards. It’s been quite a while since the green team announced the Kepler GPU and since then we’ve seen pretty much every possible variation of Kepler used in GeForce 600 and 700 series graphics cards. Now, NVIDIA is finally moving on to the Kepler architecture which is being debuted with the GeForce 900 series.
The Maxwell GPU and the GeForce GTX 980/970 were initially expected to be based on the 20nm manufacturing process but apparently, some other company stepped in at last time (probably Apple) and took away all the 20nm manufacturing capabilities of TSMC so NVIDIA had to fall back to 28nm. Hence, the current Maxwell GPU which comes featured in the new GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards is based on the 28nm manufacturing process. This is exactly the same process node as the Kepler GPU however NVIDIA has made several enhancements to the architecture which make the Maxwell quite a lot better than Kepler. Maxwell will be later moved to 20nm node in 2015 when there are ample supplies.
NVIDIA GPU Specifications
|GTX 980||GTX 970||GTX 780 Ti||GTX 770|
|Memory Clock||7GHz GDDR5||7GHz GDDR5||7GHz GDDR5||7GHz GDDR5|
|Memory Bus Width||256-bit||256-bit||384-bit||256-bit|
|FP64||1/32 FP32||1/32 FP32||1/24 FP32||1/24 FP32|
|Manufacturing Process||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm|
The GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are based on two different variations of the GM204 Maxwell GPU. The GM204 has 5.4 billion transistors and a die size of 398 mm². The top-end GeForce GTX 980 comes with 2048 CUDA cores, 128 TMUs and 64 ROPs. Its smaller brother, the GTX 970, comes with 1664 CUDA cores, 112 TMUs and 32 ROPs. Both the cards share the same memory configuration of 4GB GDDR5 memory spread across a 256-bit wide memory interface clocked at 7 GHz. This results in memory bandwidth of 224 GB/s.
In terms of core clocks, the GTX 980 has a rather high base clock of 1126 MHz with boost of up to 1216 MHz whereas the GTX 970 comes with base clock of 1050 MHz and boost of 1178 MHz.
The main highlight of these new Maxwell-based graphics card, among other things, is their energy efficiency. Despite staying at 28nm node, NVIDIA has made several architectural changes which results in the GTX 980 being about twice as energy efficient as GTX 680; the first card to feature Kepler architecture. The GeForce GTX 980 comes with only 165W TDP which is a big step down from 250W TDP of GTX 780. The GTX 970 comes with even lower power requirement of only 148W. Both the new graphics cards are equipped with only two 6-pin PCIe power connectors.
In terms of display outputs, both the GTX 980 and GTX 970 comes with three DisplayPorts, one HDMI and one DVI-D.
Despite having a completely new architecture under the hood, the overall design of the GTX 980 and GTX 970 has not changed much from their predecessor. Both the graphics cards come with the same black and silver metallic shroud that we’ve been seeing on flagship NVIDIA models for a while now. However, the green team has made some small adjustments to it. First of all, previous generations cards have a little opening in the shroud near the PCI bracket from which the big DVI ports’ casing pops out; that is covered now. The PCI bracket design has also been changed. It now has more perforations for better air flow. Lastly, the new graphics cards comes with black backplates.
The GeForce GTX 980 starts at $549 and the GTX 970 at $329.