From deep in the bowels of the rumor mill, SemiAccurate's Charlie Demerjian reports that Nvidia has taped out its next-generation graphics processor. In semiconductor industry jargon, tape-out means the blueprints have made their way to the foundry—TSMC, in this case—for the first round of manufacturing.
What does this mean for the GT300's release schedule? Going on word from anonymous sources, Demerjian says Nvidia should have to wait roughly 10 weeks for the first prototype cards using the new silicon. From that point, "if everything goes perfectly, not so much as a hiccup," the first production parts could make their way into stores in mid-December.
As is often the case, though, Demerjian isn't optimistic about Nvidia's prospects. He says the GT300 will be a big GPU—530mm², or slightly bigger than the 55nm GT200—and it should be Nvidia's first DirectX 11 design. (The article also claims the GT300 will be Nvidia's first GDDR5 part, but as far as we can tell, that's not accurate.) Since Nvidia has yet to deliver smaller 40nm parts in volume, the firm may spend a while debugging and fine-tuning the GT300 before it's ready for production.
We may therefore not see a launch until next year—perhaps a few months in. By contrast, AMD showed wafers of its next-gen DX11 GPU in June, and our sources suggest a launch is coming this fall.
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