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Sep 22, 2011

Nvidia Tapes Out Its First 28nm Kepler GPUs – Report

Nvidia is getting ready for the introduction of its first graphics cards based on the 28nm Kepler architecture and the company has recently taped out its first SKUs to be based on this design, according to a recent report to hit the Web.

The two cores are known under the code names of GK117 and GK107, and SemiAccurate reports these are both entry-level graphics chips.

The GK117 was the first of the two to arrive and, according to sources cited by the above-mentioned Website, is described as a hybrid between Fermi and Kepler which lacks an integrated display controller.

This is a rather odd occurrence as the code-name Nvidia used points out to a rather small core, so this can't be a Tesla GPGPU solution. The most likely explanation is that GK117 is a test chip for the 28nm Kepler architecture.

Moving to the GK107, the code name points to a GPU that should address the markets and price segments currently covered by GF108 and GF106.

If the information uncovered by SemiAccurate turns out to be indeed true, it seems like Nvidia may be in a bit of a pickle as it won't have any high-performance solutions based on the Kepler architecture ready in the first quarter of 2012.

In electronics design, the “tape out” term is used to describe the final result of the design cycle of a chip and means that the integrated circuit can be sent to the foundry for manufacturing the first physical samples.

These will then go through a number of spins as the design is further refined to eliminate any potential flaws that made their way into the integrated circuit.

This is usually a pretty lengthy process, so if Nvidia doesn't face any problems with the A0 silicon of the GK117 and GK107, these should become available sometime in April of 2012.

Kepler is the code name used by Nvidia to refer to its next-generation graphics processing unit architecture, which introduces a series of new technologies meant to improve the GPU's ability to process data without the help of the system's processor, while also delivering improved graphics performance.


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