Sizing 'er up
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 capswhere 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.
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