The much-awaited GTX 660 has allegedly hovered in a "we made it, but need to sell our old stuff first" limbo for over a month. With the GTX 560 and 550 soon to be discontinued, the time is definitely right for the first truly midrange Kepler part to emerge into the daylight. Emerge it has... and dear Gods, the specs!
Packing 1334 'CUDA' cores (the same as a GTX 670), a 915 MHz base clock, 980MHz 'boost clock' (also the same as a GTX 670) and 2GB of memory (same) the GTX 660 is closer, specifications wise, to its bigger cousin than any graphics card has been. The card does however lose a quarter of its ROPs (parts designed to handle Anti-Aliasing and other 'post rendering' effects). Similarly restricted is a quarter of the memory bandwidth via a move to a 192-bit, rather than 256-bit bus.
This is not quite the configuration we were expecting, given a relatively low proportion of manufactured GK-104 silicon (the same part used in the GTX 680 and 670) come without flaws. As such fewer of the 1536 cores were expected to be enabled and a 1.5GB compliment of RAM was mooted as being most likely. However it's seems Kepler yields may have improved, while Nvidia have already perfected using non-homogenous memory chips (a la the GTX 460 1GB) allowing 2GB of RAM to be powered by a 192 bit bus.
Our friends over at Tweaktown have received a sample *a tad* early; they allege they're in a running fight with Nvidia, but not its cardmakers. From their review, performance at resolutions of 1920x1200 and below performance is simply stellar. The ~90% of a '670 power is what we would expect from card that is memory restricted - on the upper end of a scale between the AMD HD 7950 and GTX 670.
Launch is likely to occur over the coming two to three weeks and should Nvidia keep the supply stable, we could potentially be seeing this card below the $AU 300 mark by month end – given that performance is not that far off the GTX 680, this looks to be the most important release of the efficient Kepler architecture yet. Should the '660 hit its mark without issue AMD will have to go on the defensive in the mid and upper-mid range, leaving the consumer even better off. It's also quite likely we'll see a non 'Ti' GTX 660 further down the track.
Atomic will keep you up to date with further information and our review as the pieces fall into place.