Serving as the introduction of Fermi, the GeForce 400 series is a series of graphics processing units developed by Nvidia. Its release was originally slated in November 2009; however, after delays, it was released on March 26, 2010 with availability following in April 2010.
Nvidia described the Fermi microarchitecture as the next major step in its line of GPUs following the Tesla microarchitecture used since the G80. The GF100, the first Fermi-architecture product, is large: 512 stream processors, in sixteen groups of 32, and 3.0 billion transistors, manufactured by TSMC in a 40 nm process. It is Nvidia's first chip to support OpenGL 4.0 and Direct3D 11. No products with a fully enabled GF100 GPU were ever sold. The GTX 480 had one streaming multiprocessor disabled. The GTX 470 had two streaming multiprocessors and one memory controller disabled. The GTX 465 had five streaming multiprocessors and two memory controllers disabled. Consumer GeForce cards came with 256MB attached to each of the enabled GDDR5 memory controllers, for a total of 1.5, 1.25 or 1.0GB; the Tesla C2050 had 512MB on each of six controllers, and the Tesla C2070 had 1024MB per controller. Both the Tesla cards had fourteen active groups of stream processors.
The chips found in the high performance Tesla branding feature memory with optional ECC and the ability to perform one double-precision floating-point operation per cycle per core; the consumer GeForce cards are artificially driver restricted to one DP operation per four cycles. With these features, combined with support for Visual Studio and C++, Nvidia targeted professional and commercial markets, as well as use in high performance computing.
Fermi is named after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi.
The quantity of on-board SRAM per ALU actually decreased proportionally compared to the previous G200 generation, despite the increase of the L2 cache from 256kB per 240 ALUs to 768kB per 512 ALUs, since Fermi has only 32768 registers per 32 ALUs (vs. 16384 per 8 ALUs), only 48kB of shared memory per 32 ALUs (vs. 16kB per 8 ALUs), and only 16kB of cache per 32 ALUs (vs. 8kB constant cache per 8 ALUs + 24kB texture cache per 24 ALUs). Parameters such as the number of registers can be found in the CUDA Compute Capability Comparison Table in the reference manual.
On September 30, 2009, Nvidia released a white paper describing the architecture: the chip features 16 'Streaming Multiprocessors' each with 32 'CUDA Cores' capable of one single-precision operation per cycle or one double-precision operation every other cycle, a 40-bit virtual address space which allows the host's memory to be mapped into the chip's address space, meaning that there is only one kind of pointer and making C++ support significantly easier, and a 384-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface. As with the G80 and GT200, threads are scheduled in 'warps', sets of 32 threads each running on a single shader core. While the GT200 had 16 KB 'shared memory' associated with each shader cluster, and required data to be read through the texturing units if a cache was needed, GF100 has 64 KB of memory associated with each cluster, which can be used either as a 48 KB cache plus 16 KB of shared memory, or as a 16 KB cache plus 48 KB of shared memory, along with a 768 KB L2 cache shared by all 16 clusters.
The white paper describes the chip much more as a general purpose processor for workloads encompassing tens of thousands of threads - reminiscent of the Tera MTA architecture, though without that machine's support for very efficient random memory access - than as a graphics processor.
Many users reported high temperatures and power consumption while receiving correspondingly poor performance improves in the GeForce 400 series Fermi GPUs when compared to rival competitor AMD's Radeon HD 5000 Series - leading AMD to create and release a promotional video "The Misunderstanding" to poke fun at the issue. In the video, a police unit is seen commencing a raid on a house with a large thermal profile, indicating a grow operation. However, upon entering the home it is apparent that the source of the high temperature is a Fermi GPU. It became a common joke that one could fry an egg on a Fermi GPU at full load.
SP - Shader Processor (Unified Shader, CUDA Core), SFU - Special Function Unit, SM - Streaming Multiprocessor.
All products are produced on a 40 nm fabrication process. All products support Direct X 12.0, OpenGL 4.6 and OpenCL 1.1. The only exception is the Geforce 405 which is based on the GT218 core only supporting DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 3.3 and no OpenCL Support
|Model||Launch||Code name||Transistors (million)||Die size (mm2)||Bus interface||SM count||Core config1,3||Clock rate||Fillrate||Memory configuration||GFLOPS (FMA)2||TDP (watts)||Launch price (USD)|
|Core (MHz)||Shader (MHz)||Memory (MHz)||Pixel (GP/s)||Texture (GT/s)||Size (MB)||Bandwidth (GB/s)||DRAM type||Bus width (bit)|
|GeForce 405 (OEM)||September 16, 2011||GT218||260||57||PCIe 2.0 x16||1||16:8:4||589||1402||1580||2.4||4.7||512
|GeForce GT 420 (OEM)||September 3, 2010||GF108||585||116||PCIe 2.0 x16||1||48:8:4||700||1400||1800||2.8||5.6||2048||28.8||GDDR3||128||134.4||50||OEM|
|GeForce GT 430 (OEM)||October 11, 2010||GF108||585||116||PCIe 2.0 x16||2||96:16:4||700||1400||1600
|GeForce GT 430||October 11, 2010||GF108||585||116||PCIe 2.0 x16||2||96:16:4||700||1400||1800||2.8||11.2||1024||28.8||GDDR3||128||268.8||49||$79|
|GeForce GT 440||February 1, 2011||GF108||585||116||PCIe 2.0 x16||2||96:16:4||810||1620||1800
|GeForce GT 440 (OEM)||October 11, 2010||GF106||1170||238||PCIe 2.0 x16||3||144:24:24||594||1189||1800||14.26||14.26||1536
|GeForce GTS 450 (OEM)||October 11, 2010||GF106||1170||238||PCIe 2.0 x16||3||144:24:24||790||1580||1804||18.96||18.96||1024
|GeForce GTS 450||September 13, 2010||GF106||1170||238||PCIe 2.0 x16||4||192:32:16||783||1566||1804||12.53||25.06||512
|GeForce GTX 460 SE||November 15, 2010||GF104||1950||332||PCIe 2.0 x16||6||288:48:32||650||1300||3400||20.8||31.2||1024||108.8||GDDR5||256||748.8||150||$160?-$180?|
|GeForce GTX 460 (OEM)||October 11, 2010||GF104||1950||332||PCIe 2.0 x16||7||336:56:24||650||1300||3400||20.8||36.4||1024||108.8||GDDR5||256||873.6||150||OEM|
|GeForce GTX 460||July 12, 2010||GF104||1950||332||PCIe 2.0 x16||7||336:56:24||675||1350||3600||16.2||37.8||768||86.4||GDDR5||192||907.2||150||$199|
|GeForce GTX 460 v2||September 24, 2011||GF114||1950||332||PCIe 2.0 x16||7||336:56:24||778||1556||4008||18.67||43.57||1024||96.2||GDDR5||192||1045.6||160||$199|
|GeForce GTX 465||May 31, 2010||GF100||3200||529||PCIe 2.0 x16||11||352:44:32||607||1215||3206||19.42||26.71||1024||102.6||GDDR5||256||855.4||200||$279|
|GeForce GTX 470||March 26, 2010||GF100||3200||529||PCIe 2.0 x16||14||448:56:40||607||1215||3348||24.28||34||1280||133.9||GDDR5||320||1088.6||215||$349|
|GeForce GTX 480||March 26, 2010||GF100||3200||529||PCIe 2.0 x16||15||480:60:48||700||1401||3696||33.60||42||1536||177.4||GDDR5||384||1345||250||$499|
On November 8, 2010, Nvidia released the GF110 chip, along with the GTX 580 (480's replacement). It is a redesigned GF100 chip, which uses significantly less power. This allowed Nvidia to enable all 16 SMs (all 16 cores), which was previously impossible on the GF100 "Nvidia GeForce GTX 580". http://www.nvidia.com/object/product-geforce-gtx-580-us.html. Various features of the GF100 architecture were only available on the more expensive Quadro and Tesla series of cards. For the GeForce consumer products, double precision performance is a quarter of that of the "full" Fermi architecture. Error checking and correcting memory (ECC) also does not operate on consumer cards. The GF100 cards provide Compute Capability 2.0, while the GF104/106/108 cards provide Compute Capability 2.1.
Nvidia announced that after Release 390 drivers, it will no longer release 32-bit drivers for 32-bit operating systems.
Nvidia announced in April 2018 that Fermi will move to legacy driver support status and be maintained until January 2019.