The big news today is the launch of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 videocard, which brings the graphic chip maker's Fermi architecture to the masses with a sub-$200 price tag, at least for lower end part. For a bit more scratch (around $229), there's a higher spec'd GTX 460 that comes with 1GB of memory on a 256-bit bus, compared to 768MB on a 192-bit bus.
As is usually the case, there's always one vendor who has to go over the top, and in this case that vendor is Sparkle. Sparkle announced three GTX 460 cards today, one of which comes outfitted with 2GB or RAM. The question is, does a mid-range graphics part need that much memory?
According to Sparkle, the answer is 'yes' (did you really expect them to say 'no'?), who points out that games like Stalker: Call of Pripyat and Metro 2033 use "insanely" large amounts of bump textures and transparent textures, putting "rigorous demands on the bandwidth and capacities of video memory."
Other than the large frame buffer, Sparkle's 2GB GTX 460 will stick to Nvidia's reference design with a 675MHz core clockspeed, 3600MHz clock, 336 stream processors, and a 256-bit memory bus.
Sources from graphics card makers have been talking to news and rumor site DigiTimes about mainstream and entry-level versions of Nvidia's Fermi-based GeForce GTX 470 and 480 videocards. According to the tech chatter, the mainstream model will come built about Nvidia's GF106 core and ship in July, while the entry-level part will use the GF108 core and make its debut in August.
Meanwhile, Nvidia will target the mid-range market with its upcoming GeForce GTX 460 (GF104) videocard, which is expected to ship in early June for $299. According to German website 3DCenter.org, the GTX 460 will come with 256 shader cores, 64 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and feature a 256-bit memory bus.
Pricing on the GF106 and GF108 is expected to be around $180 and $100, respectively, according to sources. Naturally, Nvidia wasn't willing to comment on unannounced products, so take these price points with a grain of salt.