Performance Expectations

In their presentation and FAQ, NVIDIA provided estimates of performance relative to Ivy Bridge Core i5 ULV with HD 4000. Before we get to those numbers, we want to quickly set the stage for what NVIDIA is showing. Despite the similarity in name and features, as we discovered last year the ULV chips tend to run into TDP limits when you’re trying to hit both the CPU and the iGPU. The CPU cores for instance can use around 12-15W and a full load on the iGPU can create another 10-15W; stuff both into a 17W TDP and you’re going to get throttling, which is exactly what happens.

Looking at HD 4000 performance with Core i5 ULV and Core i7 quad-core, you can see that the quad-core part is anywhere from 0% to around 60% faster. On average it’s 35% faster at our 2012 “Value” settings and 26% faster at our 2012 “Mainstream” settings. As for the 700M performance relative to Core i5 ULV, NVIDIA provides the following estimates based on benchmarks at moderate detail and 1366x768 in Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, Just Cause 2, DiRT 3, and F1 2011:

Besides the above slide, NVIDIA provided some performance estimates using results from the 3DMark 11 Performance benchmark, and the results are even more heavily in favor of NVIDIA. In their FAQ, NVIDIA states that even the lowly GeForce 710M is three times faster than ULV HD 4000, while the GT 720M is 3.3x faster, GT 730M and 735M are 4.8X faster (hmmm…do we really need GT 735M?), GT 740M is 5.3X faster, GT 745M is 5.8x faster, and GT 750M is 6.3x faster. Of course, those number are from NVIDIA, going up against the much slower ULV variant of Ivy Bridge, and using 3DMark 11—which isn’t quite as important as actual gaming performance.

I suspect the GT3 and GT3e configurations of Haswell will be substantially faster than IVB’s HD 4000 and may come close to the lower end of NVIDIA’s range…at least on the standard voltage Haswell chips. For ULV, I’ve heard a performance estimates that GT3 Haswell will be 30%-50% faster than GT2 IVB, and GT3e could be roughly twice as fast, but that should still leave NVIDIA with a healthy lead. Anyway, we’d suggest taking all of these numbers with a grain of salt for now. The real comparison for most is going to be Haswell and 700M, and while we have a pretty good idea where 700M and HD 4000 performance fall (since the 700M parts are Kepler and Fermi updates), Haswell’s iGPU is likely to be a different beast.

Closing Thoughts

On the whole, Kepler has been amazingly successful for NVIDIA, particularly in the mobile world. The bar for midrange mobile dGPUs was raised significantly with the GT 640M LE and above parts typically offering anywhere from 25% to 75% better performance than the previous generation, and that was accomplished along with reducing power use. It was NVIDIA’s version of Intel’s Core 2 launch, and the vast majority of notebooks with dGPUs seem to be using NVIDIA hardware these days. Much of that can also be attributed to NVIDIA’s driver team, where Optimus support and usability still trumps AMD’s Enduro alternative. AMD is still working to improve their drivers, but they're still not at the same level as NVIDIA's mobile drivers.

Not surprisingly, it looks like every laptop with an NVIDIA dGPU these days also comes with Optimus support, and NVIDIA says they’ll be in three times as many Ultrabooks and ultraportables in 2013 compared to 2012—which isn’t too hard, since off the top of my head the only two Ultrabooks with NVIDIA dGPUs I can name are the Acer M5 and the ASUS UX32VD. NVIDIA also says they have over 30 design wins for touchscreen laptops, but again considering Windows 8 almost requires a touchscreen to really be useful that’s expected. We will likely see a limited number of laptops launching with Ivy Bridge CPUs and 700M dGPUs over the coming weeks, with ASUS specifically listed in NVIDIA’s 700M FAQ with their X450 (GT 740M) and N46 (GT 740M as well); Lenovo is also a launch day partner with several options: Y400 with GT 750M, and Z400/Z500 with GT 740M.

The real launch is likely to coincide with Intel’s Haswell update later in Q2 2013. When that comes along, we're likely to see some additional 700M updates from NVIDIA on the high end (again, echoing what happened with the 600M and 680M launches). Just don't count on seeing a mobile variant of Titan/GK110 for a while yet; I'd peg that level of performance as something we won't see in laptops until we have two more process shrinks under our belts (i.e. when TSMC is at 16nm).

GeForce 700M Models and Specifications
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  • moep - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    The slide deck does not work (404).

    Technical difficulty or did you have to pull it?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    It's there now... our gallery is set to post things by day only, and since the NDA was at 9AM Eastern I didn't want the gallery going live nine hours early. So I set it for 4/2 and then just changed it to 4/1. Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    I was hoping to get an 15 inch normal size laptop with a gk106 fully enabled this summer, but this just crushed my hopes.
    they will just keep using those highly clocked gk107 and call it mid-high end...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    A fully enabled GK106 is almost certainly in the works, but it will be something like a GTX 770M. GTX 780M is likely to be GK104, but it will be interesting to see if NVIDIA can do a full enabled GK104 while keeping it within the typical 100W power envelope that gaming notebooks target. GTX 680MX is a full GK104, but I understand TDP is ~125W or so and that's why the only product using it is the iMac 27. We'll likely see the high-end 700M parts launch in June or July. Reply
  • transphasic - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    Jared, a question for you regarding the 700m line out this year- are these going to be backwards compatible with our current HM laptops from 2012, or are they only for the new Haswell design?
    Due to the issues that we have had with AMD, there's quite a few of us that want to get rid of AMD, and upgrade to the newest Nvidia card, and this 780m is quite a bit faster than the 680m.
    I would like to swap out my 7970m GPU for the upcoming 780m card, and was wondering if this is do-able or not.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    Keep in mind that I'm guessing at 780M -- I could be off. As for backwards compatibility, given that we're essentially looking at minor tweaks and revisions to Kepler, they should all work fine in existing laptops. Getting a replacement GPU might be a bit difficult/expensive, though. Quick question: did the latest 13.3 beta drivers help you at all with 7970M? I Haven't had a chance to test then yet. Reply
  • transphasic - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    The new Catalyst 13.3 beta drivers are fine, and have no problems yet with them. My concern, though, is that these last few driver releases from AMD have not/are not dealing with increasing the FPS rates on current games, while Nvidia's has.
    Even though the new games that are out like Bioshock are AMD-coded, Nvidia is winning the battle on better gaming performance. While Nvidia is releasing their standard (and better) drivers for newer games at a faster rate than AMD is (as is usual), AMD is falling further and futher behind in other areas as well in terms of hardware specs- in this case, their 8000 series gaming GPU for this summer which has been very disappointing in it's specs, to say the least.
    This is why I want to upgrade to the new 780m GPU. From what was said on another forum, the preliminary specs for the 780m is the equivalent of the 680MX for the Imac released late last year.
    It is said to offer a 20%+ improvement over the 680m, and if it's backwards compatible to the HM series motherboards that we currently have, it's worth thinking about upgrading to this year for our existing Sager laptops.
    You're right about the cost, though. If the price is prohibitive, then it would make sense to wait for the Maxwell release next year with whatever Nvidia has out then.
    It really depends on cost at this point.
    Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    A fully enabled gk106 may be asking to much
    maybe with 1 smx and a 64-bit memory controler disabled
    leaving it with 3 smx a fast 128-bit memory controler and call it gt755m or gtx760m
    it would be the gt555m of this generation and a sweet spot for a standart perfomance 15 inch laptop.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    I'm about 99% sure we'll see a full GK106 on mobile this year; the only question is what they'll call it. Well, that and how much power will it use and what will its clocks be. For clocks, 2500MHz (5000MHz effective GDDR5) seems likely, and clocks will probably be in the 600-700MHz range with Boost taking it up to a max of around 800MHz. That's my guess anyway. TDP will be ~70W, though, so this will be a part for larger gaming notebooks only.

    /speculation
    Reply
  • tviceman - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    Based on the products announced today, it looks like GK106 based mobile GPU's will start with the gtx760m, and will surely be available in a 15" form factor. Reply

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