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Rare GeForce GTX 480 With 512 CUDA Cores Emerges 10 Years Later

Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 Core 512

Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 (Image credit: Bilibili)

A fully unlocked GeForce GTX 480 with all 512 CUDA cores active, unofficially known as the GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 in some hardware circles, first appeared in the wild in 2010. The card lead to the speculation that Nvidia might bring it to market, but that never happened. Ten years later, another working engineering sample of the fabled graphics card (spotted by @KOMACHI_ENSAKA) has emerged once again in China.

At one time, the GeForce GTX 480 was the fastest graphics card in the world. Sadly, it will always be remembered for the wrong reasons, such as being one of the hottest and most power-hungry graphics cards that ever graced the hardware world, and the unlocked version's high power draw only underlines that assertion.

In case you weren't around then, the GeForce GTX 480 dates back to the Fermi era. The graphics card was based on the enormous GF100 silicon, which TSMC manufactured on the 40nm process node. The GF100 die measures 529 mm² and houses up to 512 CUDA cores. However, the complete GF100 die didn't officially make it to the market. Despite the GeForce GTX 480 being the top dog at that time, it only came with 480 CUDA cores, meaning Nvidia had disabled 32 of them. It was unheard of for a flagship model to not feature the full silicon.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 Core 512

Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 (Image credit: Bilibili)

On the outside, the GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 engineering sample utilizes a similar shroud as the GeForce GTX 470 with some slight aesthetic changes. The teardown reveals the same PCB design and internal components as the public GeForce GTX 480, though. What's not visible is that the GF100 die that's under the hood does come with all 512 CUDA cores enabled.

Expreview's evaluation of the GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 shows a roughly 6% performance uplift over the regular GeForce GTX 480. The puny improvement comes at a very high cost, though. Back in the day, our test system consumed up to 450W when we pushed the GeForce GTX 480 to the edge. Expreview's system with the GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 pulled up to 644W under similar workloads, a difference of 194W.

It's easy to see why Nvidia didn't release the GeForce GTX 480 Core 512 when you look at the math. A 6% performance increase at the cost of 43.1% higher power consumption would have only given the Fermi-based graphics card a worse reputation for high power draw.

  • TechLurker
    Looks like something that would definitely have required an AIO-only version, or a Koolance Exos just to keep it from thermal throttling, on top of a then-pricy 800w PSU.

    It would have made for a great space heater in northern climates though.
    Reply
  • hftvhftv
    Is this just a GTX 580?
    Reply
  • refillable
    hftvhftv said:
    Is this just a GTX 580?
    A GTX 580 that is clocked lower and consumes twice the power.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    refillable said:
    A GTX 580 that is clocked lower and consumes twice the power.
    So a RX570?

    Lol
    Reply
  • fredfinks
    drivinfast247 said:
    So a RX570?

    Lol

    and 8 years earlier.
    Reply
  • King_V
    It was shocking...

    Then I realized those numbers were total system power, not just GPU power.

    So, under Furmark, the normal GTX 480 pulls 304 watts more than it does at idle. An educated guess as mentioned puts the GTX 480 at around 60W idle? If that's true, then the NORMAL card was pulling 360 or so watts under load.

    An extra 194W for the 512 CUDA core version means . . 554 watts under load. Ouch!

    @drivinfast247 - so, if the legacy performance hierarchy is accurate, even if it did perform on the level of a GTX 580, we're still talking below RX 570 performance. More like 1050/1050Ti, or RX 560-4G, R9 280/285 level.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    King_V said:
    It was shocking...

    Then I realized those numbers were total system power, not just GPU power.

    So, under Furmark, the normal GTX 480 pulls 304 watts more than it does at idle. An educated guess as mentioned puts the GTX 480 at around 60W idle? If that's true, then the NORMAL card was pulling 360 or so watts under load.

    An extra 194W for the 512 CUDA core version means . . 554 watts under load. Ouch!

    @drivinfast247 - so, if the legacy performance hierarchy is accurate, even if it did perform on the level of a GTX 580, we're still talking below RX 570 performance. More like 1050/1050Ti, or RX 560-4G, R9 280/285 level.
    It was more a jab at the total power usage and not performance per watt.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Oh, totally agree - it's just even worse than your comparison implied any which way it's sliced.

    The GTX 480 512CUDA edition - endorsed by VaultTec!
    Reply
  • hftvhftv
    refillable said:
    A GTX 580 that is clocked lower and consumes twice the power.
    Sounds like I need four of these and an overclocked FX 9590.
    Reply
  • refillable
    hftvhftv said:
    Sounds like I need four of these and an overclocked FX 9590.
    That'd definitely outperform my space heater in terms of generating heat 🤣 .
    Reply