Nvidia's ''big Maxwell'' GPU appears online

Pictures of what seems to be a "big Maxwell" reference card have appeared online. Videocardz posted the shots, which show an Nvidia-branded circuit board with a GPU labeled GM200-400-A1. The chip looks larger than the GM204 GPU in the GeForce GTX 970 and 980, and it's accompanied by a generous 12GB of Hynix RAM rated for transfer rates up to 7 GT/s.

Videocardz suspects the card is the same as the Quadro M6000 that popped up in the GPU-Z database last month. Although the specs haven't been confirmed, the GPU utility reported 3072 shader processors, 96 ROPs, and a 384-bit memory interface—a 50% increase over the GM204 on all fronts. The 988MHz GPU clock is lower than the base and burst frequencies for the GTX 980, but that figure could climb in the final product.

Quadro cards are aimed at workstations, but they also provide a foundation for the ultra-high-end Titan series, which is due for a Maxwell refresh. The Kepler-based GeForce GTX Titan Black debuted last February, and its predecessor came out one year earlier.

An impending launch would also jibe with the GM200 timeline published in a research paper affiliated with Nvidia's Los Angeles operations. That paper projected the GPU's arrival for the end of 2014. The leaked shots are dated December 27, and the GPU-Z entry was submitted December 24.

If the next-gen Titan does arrive next month, expect it to be very fast—and very expensive. The Titan Black sells for nearly $1300 right now.

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