NVIDIA Unveils Next Generation "Fermi" GPU Architecture

NVIDIA has begun to disclose some information regarding its next generation GPU architecture, codenamed "Fermi". Actual product names or specifics were not disclosed just yet, nor was performance in 3D games, but high-level information about the architecture and its strong focus on compute performance and broader compatibility with computational applications were discussed.

The GPU codenamed Fermi will feature over 3-billion transistors and be produced using TSMC's 40nm processes. If you remember, AMD's new RV870 is 2.15 billion transistors and is also manufactured at 40nm, so Fermi will be significantly larger and more expensive to produce. Fermi will be outfitted with more than double the number of cores as the GT200, 512 in total. It will also offer 8x the peak double-precision compute performance. In addition, Fermi is the first GPU architecture to support ECC, so it can compensate for some errors and potentially scale to higher densities, and it will be able to execute C++ code.

NVIDIA's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed off the first Fermi-based, Tesla branded add in board at the GPU Technology conference taking place in San Jose over the next few days.

We will have more information regarding Fermi posted as it becomes available. For now, we've got the official release below, along with some images. Be sure to check out NVIDIA's official site as well for more details...

NVIDIA Unveils Next Generation CUDA GPU Architecture - Codenamed "Fermi"

New Ground-Up Design Gives Rise to the World's First Computational GPUs

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -Sep. 30, 2009 - NVIDIA Corp. today introduced its next generation CUDA GPU architecture, codenamed "Fermi". An entirely new ground-up design, the "Fermi" architecture is the foundation for the world's first computational graphics processing units (GPUs), delivering breakthroughs in both graphics and GPU computing.

"NVIDIA and the Fermi team have taken a giant step towards making GPUs attractive for a broader class of programs," said Dave Patterson, director Parallel Computing Research Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley and co-author of Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach. "I believe history will record Fermi as a significant milestone."

Presented at the company's inaugural GPU Technology Conference, in San Jose, California, "Fermi" delivers a feature set that accelerates performance on a wider array of computational applications than ever before. Joining NVIDIA's press conference was Oak Ridge National Laboratory who announced plans for a new supercomputer that will use NVIDIA GPUs based on the "Fermi" architecture. "Fermi" also garnered the support of leading organizations including Bloomberg, Cray, Dell, HP, IBM and Microsoft.

"It is completely clear that GPUs are now general purpose parallel computing processors with amazing graphics, and not just graphics chips anymore," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA. "The Fermi architecture, the integrated tools, libraries and engines are the direct results of the insights we have gained from working with thousands of CUDA developers around the world. We will look back in the coming years and see that Fermi started the new GPU industry."

As the foundation for NVIDIA's family of next generation GPUs namely GeForce, Quadro and Tesla - "Fermi" features a host of new technologies that are "must-have" features for the computing space, including:

  • C++, complementing existing support for C, Fortran, Java, Python, OpenCL and DirectCompute. 
  • ECC, a critical requirement for datacenters and supercomputing centers deploying GPUs on a large scale 
  • 512 CUDA Cores featuring the new IEEE 754-2008 floating-point standard, surpassing even the most advanced CPUs 
  • 8x the peak double precision arithmetic performance over NVIDIA's last generation GPU. Double precision is critical for high-performance computing (HPC) applications such as linear algebra, numerical simulation, and quantum chemistry 
  • NVIDIA Parallel DataCache - the world's first true cache hierarchy in a GPU that speeds up algorithms such as physics solvers, raytracing, and sparse matrix multiplication where data addresses are not known beforehand 
  • NVIDIA GigaThread Engine with support for concurrent kernel execution, where different kernels of the same application context can execute on the GPU at the same time (eg: PhysX fluid and rigid body solvers) 
  • Nexus - the world's first fully integrated heterogeneous computing application development environment within Microsoft Visual Studio

Images, technical whitepapers, presentations, videos and more on "Fermi" can all be found at: www.nvidia.com/fermi.

Tags:  Nvidia, GeForce, GPU, Tesla, Fermi