What on earth is the GeForce GTX 580? Thanks to what appears to be a very leaky manufacturing base in China, Nvidia and AMD can barely keep secrets about new graphics cards anymore. Seemingly before the media is briefed on new GPUs, sites filled with specs and benchmarks can be found thanks to the magic of Google Translate.
One graphics card that appeared recently was Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580. Using the time honoured hardware numbering that means greater equals faster we'd expect the GTX 580 to be direct successor to the awe-inspiring GTX 480: some sort of super card waiting in the wings.
It seems, however, that this is actually a tweaked up version of the GeForce GTX 480, designed to steal the thunder of AMD’s 6970 and 6990 cards when they launch in a few weeks time.
The problem is that while AMD’s cards will be a proper second generation of DirectX 11 GPU, it's doubtful that Nvidia is at such a point with its Fermi architecture. What seems more likely is that the company is cherry picking GPUs that it can run at full tilt (the GeForce GTX 480 is slightly underpowered compared to the initially announcements for Fermi).
Justin at our sister publication Atomic has been chasing down some of the rumours surrounding the GeForce GTX 580 and has received some fascinating replies from the board manufacturers, some of whom know nothing, while others are expecting their first local samples quite soon.
We’ll be getting in a card as soon as Nvidia makes a proper announcement, and it will be fascinating to see how performance matches up against AMD’s new offerings. But for now don’t expect big things, the numbering may be a hundred more than the best Nvidia card at the moment, but numbering is all about marketing, not performance.