NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture succeeds the Kepler architecture



Maxwell architecture

In September 2014, NVIDIA (NVDA) launched its first desktop graphics processing units (or GPUs)—GeForce GTX 750 and 750i. They feature its new Maxwell architecture. Maxwell GPU architecture succeeds the company’s Kepler micro architecture.

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Maxwell GPU’s key features

Kepler chips were considered NVIDIA’s highest-performance GPUs. The recently launched Maxwell GPUs offer twice the power efficiency and 40% more performance per compute unit device architecture (or CUDA) core on shader-limited workloads than Kepler chips. Both Maxwell and Kepler chips use a 28 nanometer (or nm) manufacturing process.

Maxwell GPUs offer lower performance per watt. They also offer new technologies like “Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing” (or MFAA) that claims to boost performance by as much as 30% without impacting visuals.

Its Battery Boost feature limits in-game frame rates. It balances system performance to boost on-battery play time by 20–30%. Maxwell’s GPU has new Dynamic Super Resolution (or DSR) that’s designed to put 4K-quality content on lower-resolution screens. So, it’s like the game is rendering itself at a 4K resolution. It’s filtered down to the laptop’s native 1080p display.

Due to these features, Maxwell GPUs scored significantly higher than the previous-generation Kepler chips—as the following chart shows. AMD’s (AMD) Graphics Core Next (or GCN) and Intel’s (INTC) Knights Corner architecture are peers of NVIDIA’s Kepler chips in the high-performance computing market.

If NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture performs well, it will benefit exchange-traded funds (or ETFs) like the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) and the PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ). These ETFs have significant exposure to NVIDIA.

Improved features that can boost NVIDIA’s revenue

In October 2014, NVIDIA launched new graphics cards—GeForce GTX 980 and 970 desktop GPUs. These mobile GPUs are the first notebook boards that have Maxwell architecture. They’re high performing and more power efficient than the previous generation. This implies that there are increased chances for design wins.

These advances will likely help NVIDIA increase its sales from gaming notebook computers in the future. Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox uses NVIDIA’s graphics chips. Sony’s (SNE) Playstation is another leading player in the gaming market.


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