Introduction and Specifications
NVIDIA continues to flesh out their GeForce GTX 500 series line-up, this time with a new GPU targeted at more mainstream, budget conscious gamers. The new GeForce GTX 550 Ti which is being introduced today, like the other members of the GeForce GTX 500 series, is based upon a refinement and update to a GeForce 400 series GPU (in this case the GTS 450), but there’s more going on under the hood here than a respin and a new transistor mix. More on that a little later, though.
The new GeForce GTX 550 Ti improves upon the previous-gen GTS 450 in a number of ways, all of which enhance performance, but the GTX 550 targets a price point and performance level below the GTX 460. The branding of this new card is sure to result in a few confused consumers. We’d expect most people to assume a GTX 550 outperforms a GTX 460 based on the model numbers alone, but as the market clears out of older GeForce 400 series parts, NVIDIA’s line-up will also be more clearly defined.
With that said, let’s move on to some of the particulars and see what makes the new GeForce GTX 550 Ti tick. The reference specifications are posted below, and we’ve got a trio of retail-ready cards on tap from ZOTAC, Asus, and MSI that all offer a little something extra, above and beyond what NVIDIA has outlined in the reference specs...
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti Reference Design
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti GPU, Front and Back
As we’ve mentioned, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti GPU is an update and refinement of the GeForce GTX 450. Both of the GPUs feature a single Graphics Processing Cluster, with 4 SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors), a total of 192 CUDA cores, with 32 texture units. The GeForce GTX 550 Ti, however, sports 24 ROP units to the GTS 450’s 16, 384K of L2 to the GTX 450’s 256K, and an additional memory partition which increases the interface width from 128-bits (GTS 450) to 192-bits (GTX 550 Ti). In addition to offering a wider memory interface, NVIDIA also tweaked the memory controller to allow the use of mixed-density memory chips. In the past, GPUs with 192-bit memory interfaces, like some versions of the GeForce GTX 460, would require oddly sized frame buffers, like 768MB or 1.5GB for example. With the GeForce GTX 550 Ti though, GDDR5 memory chips of different sizes can be mixed which results in more traditional frame buffer configurations, like the 1GB found on the GTX 550 Ti. An updated transistor mix and refinements to the manufacturing process have also allowed NVIDIA to crank up the clock speeds on the GeForce GTX 550 Ti. Whereas the GTS 450 reference specifications called for a 783MHz GPU clock, with 1566MHz shaders, and 902MHz memory, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti reference specifications designate a 900MHz GPU clock, with 1800MHz shaders, and 1026MHz memory.