Always spoiling for a fight here comes Nvidia's latest card, the GeForce GTX 570, just as we're hearing what AMD is planning.
When the rather impressive GTX 580 tipped up out of the blue the other month we were promised it was going to be the vanguard of a whole new range of 500 series GeForce cards based on this revised Fermi chip. And true to its word here comes the obvious next iteration, the GTX 570.
This whole 500 series though has been something of a surprise to everyone and, in the light of what could turn out to be a rather catastrophic delay to AMD's HD 69xx cards, I think it's probably surprised a fair few people inside Nvidia itself.
The 500 cards probably weren't meant to be released this year, but when the rumblings started to filter through that AMD would be getting its new generation of cards out of the door pre-holidays it looked like Nvidia wanted to spoil the party.
Unfortunately for AMD though it wasn't so much a party as an awkward get together of a few socially inept gimps with nothing to say and nothing to recommend them. What I'm trying to say is the proposed AMD GPU launch actually turned out to only be the rather poorly performing Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 series of cards and the GTX 580 rocked up and almost unnecessarily pushed Nvidia further ahead in the performance race.
The GeForce GTX 570 follows on from the GTX 580 much in the same way as the GTX 470 followed the inaugural Fermi, the GTX 480.
The difference here is that the GTX 580 was a much higher spec card than the GTX 480 was at the time and because of the trickle down effect this new card actually has more in common with that first Fermi card than the GTX 470.
The GTX 580 came in with the full CUDA core count of 512 in sixteen of its Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) blocks with a dedicated Polymorph engine in each and 64 texture units. In GPU terms the GTX 570 effectively strips away one of those SMs leaving this latest card with 480 CUDA cores in 15 SMs and 60 texture units.
In essence almost the same configuration as was in the GTX 480.
The difference comes in the shape of the number of render output units (ROPs); both the GTX 480 and GTX 580 came with a count of 48 ROPs while the GTX 470 and GTX 570 come in with a still-chunky 40 each.
The GTX 570 is also clocked higher than either of the two top-end 400 series Fermi cards, making it rather more of a direct replacement for the GTX 480 than the GTX 470.
That said the memory configuration is where things have been held back to stop this card just getting into the silly performance territory, where it might actually hurt the sales of its more expensive big brother.
With 1,280MB of GDDR5 running on a 320-bit memory bus it's not going to have the same high-resolution grunt as the GTX 580. Still, in all but our high-res Metro 2033 benchmark the GTX 570 managed to either beat or hit exactly the same numbers as that first ever Fermi card.
And that's really nothing to sniff at.