The road to any new microprocessor design is by no means simple. Planning for a major GPU like NVIDIA's Kepler starts four years prior to the chip's debut. In a world that's increasingly more focused on fast production and consumption of everything, it's insane to think of any project taking such a long period of time.

Chip planning involves figuring out what you want to do, what features you want, what the architecture should look like at a high level, etc...  After several rounds of back and forth in the planning stage, actual architecture work begins. This phase can take a good 1 - 1.5 years depending on the complexity of the design. Add another year for layout and validation work, then a 6 - 9 month race from tape out to products on shelves. The teams that spend years on these designs are made up of hard working, very smart people. They all tend to believe in what they're doing and they all show up trying to do the best job possible. 

Unfortunately, picking a target that's 4 years out and trying to hit it better than your competition is extremely difficult. You can put in an amazing amount of work, push through late nights, struggle with issues, be proud of what you've done and still fall short. We've seen this happen to companies on both sides of the fence, whether we're talking CPUs or GPUs, you win some and you lose some


Today NVIDIA unveiled Kepler, a more efficient 28nm derivative of its Fermi architecture. The GeForce GTX 680 is the first productized Kepler for the desktop and if you read our review, it did very well. As our own Ryan Smith wrote in his conclusion to the GeForce GTX 680 review:

"But in the meantime, in the here and now, this is by far the easiest recommendation we’ve been able to make for an NVIDIA flagship video card. NVIDIA’s drive for efficiency has paid off handsomely, and as a result they have once again captured the performance crown."

We've all heard stories about what happens inside a company when a chip doesn't do well. Today we have an example of what happens after years of work really pay off. A trusted source within NVIDIA forwarded us a copy of Jen-Hsun's (NVIDIA's CEO) email to all employees, congratulating them on Kepler's launch. With NVIDIA in (presumably) good spirits today, I'm sure they won't mind if we share it here.

If you ever wondered what it's like to be on the receiving end of a happy Jen-Hsun email, here's your chance:

-----Original Message-----
From: Jensen H Huang 
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 9:48 AM
To: Employees
Subject: Kepler Rising
Today, the first Kepler - GTX 680 - is on shelves around the world!
Three years in the making.  The endeavor of a thousand of the world's best engineers.  One vision - build a revolutionary GPU and make a giant leap in efficient-performance.
Achieving efficient-performance, great performance while consuming the least possible energy, required us to change our entire design approach.  Close collaboration between architecture-design-VLSI-software-devtech-systems, intense scrutiny on where energy is spent, and inventions at every level were necessary.  The results are fantastic as you will see in the reviews. 
Kepler also cultivated a passion for craftsmanship - nothing wasted, everything put together with care - with a goal of creating an exquisite product that works wonderfully.  Let's continue to raise the bar and establish extraordinary craftsmanship as a hallmark of our company.
Today is just the beginning of Kepler.  Because of its super energy-efficient architecture, we will extend GPUs into datacenters, to super thin notebooks, to superphones.  Not to mention bring joy and delight to millions of gamers around the world.
I want to thank all that gave your heart and soul to create Kepler.  You've created something wonderful.
Congratulations everyone!


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  • tipoo - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    Another "PC Gaming is dead" declaration, alert the press. If it was dead why would companies like this keep pressing forward with new chips like this with costly R&D? Even if 7 in 10 games are console ports, PCs still can play them with higher resolution and detail, arguably better controls (and if you disagree, you can always use a 360 controller), etc etc. Alan wake on PC recouped its development costs in 24 hours, obviously its still in studios best interests not to ignore PC.
  • Booster - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    You call that POS 'a game'?

    And I'm not a troll. I honestly can't comprehend why in this day and age they still, quote, 'keep pressing forward with new chips like this with costly R&D?'

    If Nvidia thinks there are many people willing to pay hundreds of $ for something you can't use even if you wanted to (but who'd want to play modern 'games', really?), shame on them.
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    I guess it's amd fanboy rage days when the Nvidia card wins, suddenyl it's a tie, no one can tell, it's a personal choice, or it's silly for just Nvidia of course, to even make cards and for anyone to play games.
    I've never seen sorer losers than amd fans in my entire life.
  • tipoo - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    And that POS recouped its losses in 24 hours, how good the game is is completely missing my point. They keep making these cards because people keep buying them, and people keep buying them in the face of console ports because they still find the experience superior. What's not to comprehend? You may not value higher resolution, better effects and details or better controls, some people do, I don't see the problem.
  • iamezza - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    Can someone delete this useless troll / flame-bait comment please?
  • coolkev99 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Yes, there are a lot of PC gamers left out there. I am one of them. We need to catch up? To what?

    What’s the point of Kelper? What’s the point of making anything better? If everyone thought like you did we'd still be playing on the original Nintendo. Seriously.. I have a big problem with the notion where we are today is "good enough". All this talk of iPad games, mobile phone games, and the "casual" gamer market. So these devices are finally capable of running games that look/perform halfway decent, so now everyone and his brother has a video game "system" in their pocket. So what?

    There are just as many gamers out there as before that demand a richer experience. It’s not like the core gamers have disappeared. We are still here. We still look forward to the next big innovation, the next amazing experience that blows us away. Bejeweled and Angry birds does not impress us. It doesn't deliver the kind of immersive entertainment core PC gamers demand.

    Look back at history, look when 3dfx hit the scene. They had a piece of hardware with very little software support. But since their product delivered such an amazing experience it completely changed the gaming industry towards hardware accelerated "3d" graphics.

    PC gaming has always helped push the entire gaming industry forward. You should be thanking Nvidia and PC gamers instead of criticizing.
  • XSCounter - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    Always happy when people work hard, invent something new, create something positive for the society and get wall payed for it! Not like the Wall Street freaks getting big bucks just for "moving" money and not inventing anything...

    Good job, NVIDIA! Congratz!
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    I agree and that goes for AMD as well.
    Really making something, a real economy and a real product that forwards growth in human potential and advancement and furthers modernization and gets us that much closer to realizing expansion beyond earth..
  • havoti97 - Sunday, March 25, 2012 - link

    How about sharing some of that company profit with the thousands of people who helped accomplish it, rather than keeping a fat CEO bonus
  • hans007 - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - link

    but i have to appreciate that he bothered with the email. a lot of ceos might not do it.

    i kind of expect it from him though. i wandered into some nvidia event in san jose once when i was living int he bay area, and actaully hung out with jen hsun . and he was drunk and having a great time with his employees. he seems very, "one of the guys" compared to a lot of other big company ceos.

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