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Last generation, Nvidia made compute performance and gaming equally important on its flagship GPU—the same piece of silicon that went into high-end Quadro cards and the GeForce GTX 480.
This time around, at the event introducing GeForce GTX 680 to press from around the world, the company refused to discuss compute, joking that it took a lot of heat for pushing the subject with Fermi and didn’t want to go there again.
The more complete story is that it doesn’t want to go there…yet. Sandra 2012 just showed us that the GeForce GTX 680 trails AMD’s Radeon HD 7900 cards in 32-bit math. And it gets absolutely decimated in 64-bit floating-point operations, as Nvidia purposely protects its profitable professional graphics business by artificially capping perfrmance.
Not surprisingly, then, the OpenGL-based LuxMark 2.0 benchmark shows the GeForce GTX 680 dragging across the finish line.
In comparison, the GeForce GTX 580/590’s GF110 GPU is better-suited to general-purpose compute tasks. And Nvidia argues it’d rather sell you a workstation-oriented Quadro card or dedicated Tesla-based board. We’d counter that AMD’s Radeon HD 7900-series cards are, at least from a performance perspective, clearly viable alternatives in this particular workload (not to mention a lot cheaper).