NVIDIA is no stranger to re-jigging its GPUs once yields improve. The original GTX 260 launched with 192 shaders before it was replaced by a revised version with 216 shaders based on the same GT200 core. If the latest buzz is to be believed, the flagship GeForce GTX 480 might be about to get the same treatment.
Running away with the lead
EXP-Review claims to have found proof of a GPU that will use the full 512 shaders of the GF100 core. If you think back to our review, we noted that the GTX 480 had one of its stream-processing units disabled as a result of low yields on the new architecture. The first Fermi-based chip was a monstrous 3bn-transistors, so making a flawless version was always going to be a challenge. If this news is to be believed, though, it would appear that chip-fabricator TSMC may now be managing acceptable yields.
The GTX 480 is already the world's most-powerful single-GPU and adding an extra 32 shaders will only extend its lead. If the performance boost comes without an increase in price, it'll be even better. However, with more active circuitry, the GPU will need more power and generate more heat. A quick look at the circuit board shows that it requires two eight-pin power connectors, compared to an eight-pin and a six-pin for the original version of the GTX 480.
Feeling the heat
Considering the temperatures that the stock card runs at, we have to expect that a more-powerful version will be even hotter, or at least require a small wind-turbine to keep it cool. Clock speeds for the shaders, memory and core appear to be unaffected, though.
Interestingly, the GPU-Z screenshot intimates that there will be no change in texturing setup - based on 60 texture units that provide 42.1GT/s fillrate - and that seems at odds with the 16 shader blocks with four texture-units each (64).
We obviously like the idea of a more-powerful GPU, especially if the upgrade doesn't cost any more than the older models. However, we're seriously worried about the power-draw of this beast. We'd much rather see a redesigned core that runs cooler and faster than the same core with even more circuitry switched on. Obviously this is all speculation for now, but a revised GTX 480 could well be NVIDIA's defence to ATI's rumoured 6-series GPUs, expected to launch later this year.