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Sizing 'er up

Estimated
transistor
count
(Millions)
Approximate
die size
(mm²)
Fabrication
process node
G92b 754 256 55-nm TSMC
GT200 1400 576* 65-nm TSMC
GT200b 1400 470* 55-nm TSMC
GF104 1950 320* 40-nm TSMC
GF100 3000 529* 40-nm TSMC
RV770 956 256 55-nm TSMC
Juniper 1040 166 40-nm TSMC
Cypress 2150 334 40-nm TSMC

Chip die sizes are interesting because they tell us something about how much it costs to produce a chip and about the efficiency of its architecture and design. We'd like to compare the GF104 to its stablemates and competitors to get a better sense of things. Uniquely among the major players in PC semiconductors, though, Nvidia refuses to divulge die sizes for its chips. That's a quirky thing, in a very Nvidia sort of way, since finding out a chip's die size isn't especially difficult. Heck, I'd have measured the GF104 myself by now if my X-Acto knife blade could wedge in just a little further under the metal cap that covers it. I'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, we have our highly scientific "find the most widely reported number that looks right to you" method of obtaining Nvidia die sizes. This information could be wrong, especially in the case of a new chip like the GF104, but it's probably not far off. I've added asterisks to the table on the right for die sizes gathered from around the web.

To give you more of a sense of things, the pictures below show chips where possible and "integrated heat spreaders"—that is, metal caps—where necessary. The quarter is there as a size reference and is not an FCC requirement for video cards. Based on its estimated transistor count (which comes from Nvidia) and process node, the size of the chip package, and its rumored die area culled from here, the GF104 looks to be very close in total area to Cypress, though more oblong in shape. Whether the GF104 can reach the same performance heights as Cypress does aboard the Radeon HD 5870 is an open question. Its mission in the GeForce GTX 460 is quite a bit more modest.


Juniper


RV770


Cypress


The GF104's metal cap


The 55-nm G92b


The 65-nm GT200 under its metal cap


The GF100's metal cap