Nvidia's life after Fermi: Kepler in 2011, Maxwell in 2013

Summary:At this week's GPU Technology Conference, Nvidia took the unusual step of introducing its road map for future graphics cards on the heels of its tumultuous Fermi launch.Among other issues, Fermi cards have been knocked for the large amount of power they draw, and Nvidia is looking to address that concern first with the Kepler platform, which was ballparked for 2011.

At this week's GPU Technology Conference, Nvidia took the unusual step of introducing its road map for future graphics cards on the heels of its tumultuous Fermi launch.

Among other issues, Fermi cards have been knocked for the large amount of power they draw, and Nvidia is looking to address that concern first with the Kepler platform, which was ballparked for 2011. Kepler will be built on a 28nm fabrication process, and the shrinkage should lower wattage while promising improved performance per watt.

Following Kepler in 2013 will be Maxwell, which promises a big leap in performance -- 16 times over Fermi -- though few details were provided as how it will do so. Maxwell also will apparently rely less upon the CPU to assist it in its chores.

While Nvidia showed a new openness by revealing the road map, some critics are dubious about the performance estimates, especially given many of the problems that Fermi faced as it was readied for launch. In particular, noted Nvidia skeptic Charlie Demerjian isn't as hopeful about the numbers, believing that most of the promised gains are the result of Moore's law (the amount of transistors that can fit on a integrated circuit doubles every two years -- or 18 months, depending on whom you ask), rather than radical new technology.

Is Nvidia giving us a glimpse at Kepler and Maxwell because the current climate isn't so good for the green (chip) giant, or do you have faith that the road map will lead to graphics glory? Let us know in the Comments section.

Topics: Hardware, Processors

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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