Chinese site HardwareBattle and perennial leak-mongers WCCFTech.com have taken to the intertubes to publish a set of preliminary specifications for NVIDIA's upcoming entry-level gaming card based on their Maxwell architecture, the GeForce GTX 950. In addition, the leak floats an ambitious August 17th release date, the first firm date we've seen. As with all leaks however a handful of salt is most definitely required.
The rumoured specifications are based on the GM206 GPU found in every GeForce GTX 960, but a cutdown version thereof. Raw GPU specs are as you might expect: CUDA Core count reduced by 25% to 768 (6 SMMs) compared to a more beefy 1024 (8 SMMs), a similar 2GB GDDR5 VRAM allowance, and 128bit memory bus. Due to a reduced SMM count the number of Texture Units will also be reduced commensurately, which would be a concern at higher resolutions. These sorts of numbers place it in the entry-level [email protected] settings range, largely replacing the GTX 750Ti as NVIDIA's entry-level GPU of choice for gamers and going toe-to-toe with AMD's newly refreshed R7 360 and R9 370.
However here's where things start to hit a grey area for HWBattle, making it sound more like educated guesswork than verified fact - they list a 100MHz window for base/boost clocks and memory speed, whereas you might expect slightly firmer value even now. Furthermore an 8-pin PCIe connector on a 90W card would be overkill (as well as having compatibility issues in low-end systems), 6-pin power is far more likely. It's possible that these are specifications for an engineering sample of the card, but it does cast some doubt on its legitimacy.
Another possibility is that the above are 'on paper' specs, but that only partner ASICs from the likes of ASUS and MSI will be released into the market. The GM206 is already a known quantity, and relatively low margins on the card mean that there's not a huge amount of value to releasing a reference PCB and cooling solution. Better to let the partners do what they do best from the get-go?
The card will supplant the Geforce GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti in the product stack, two cards based on the first generation Maxwell architecture which were released in Spring of 2014. It isn't guaranteed that these 700-series GPUs will exit the market on the GTX 960's release, but a price correction to accommodate the new card and shift older stock isn't unlikely.
By far the most interesting point of this leak however is the August 17th release date. This places it a little less than 2 weeks after GamesCom, and perhaps more importantly within a month of Windows 10's launch. Although not perfect timing for 'back to school' season pre-built systems it will still be in time for the new academic year, and likely will be an integral part of budget systems put together by and for college students.
Expect to see full DirectX 12 compatibility as the major selling point for these new cards, especially if NVIDIA price it to be competitive with AMD's R7 360 ($109 MSRP) and R9 370 ($149). Windows 10 will be fully in the consumer consciousness by that time, including DirectX 12 benchmarks and more general benefits, and feature set compatibility (as well as GameWorks) will be pushed heavily even if the majority of games aren't yet able to take advantage.
Barring a surprise - perhaps in the form of a GTX 960 Ti or new SKU to fit between the 980 and 980 Ti - this is likely to be the final single-GPU release for NVIDIA's 900-series and their Maxwell architecture. It may be that NVIDIA will release a dual-GPU SKU to go head to head with AMD's FuryX2, but at this stage it's probably less of a priority than simply improving SLI driver profiles. Until then board partners will be playing the role of graphics innovator in cooling solution and unique configurations.
Source: HWBattle.com via WCCFTech.com