Nvidia took the wraps off the company's next-generation graphics processor Relevant Products/Services unit (GPU) offerings for desktop PCs and laptops on Thursday. Based on the company's new Kepler graphics architecture, the new chips are designed to deliver dramatic 3D gaming performance even as they achieve higher levels of power efficiency, the company said.

Available right now from e-tailers and system builders at prices that start at $499, Nvidia's new GeForce GTX680 GPU resets the bar for performance while at the same time uses dramatically less power than the company's prior GeForce GTX 580 offerings based on its earlier Fermi architecture, said GeForce Product Manager Justin Walker.

"With four concurrent display outputs, the GeForce GTX 680 also lets you game in stunning 3D Vision Surround on a single GPU," Walker wrote in a Thursday blog.

3D Ultrabook Enabler

Nvidia has also launched a new GeForce 600M GPU for notebook deployments -- particularly in Ultrabooks. The new Optimus technology aboard the GeForce 600M extends battery life by automatically switching the GPU on and off so that the Ultrabook's GPU only runs when needed.

Notebook customers are about to see Ultrabooks from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio. First down the chute is the new Aspire Timeline Ultra M3-581TG from Acer.

"With a GeForce GPU onboard, our thin and light Ultrabook does everything our customers want it to do, with no compromises," said Acer America Vice President Sumit Agnihotry.

Compared with the company's prior GeForce 500M series GPU releases, the new 600M offering is twice as efficient, resulting in faster frame rates and increased detail levels on chips that draw less power, said Andrew Burnes, GeForce.com games and technology editor.

"[This] in turn increases battery life, reduces heat and noise output, and allows manufacturers to create super-slim models," Burnes said.

Optional GeForce 600M features include 3DTV Play software for connecting 3D Vision-based notebooks to 3D-compatible TVs. Optional 3D Vision technology is also available for automatically converting more than 650 game titles into immersive 3D experiences.

Rene Haas, general manager of notebook products at Nvidia, predicted that the company's more efficient and powerful GeForce 600M GPUs "will be the most popular discrete GPUs used with Intel Relevant Products/Services's coming Ivy Bridge processor."

Integrating 1,536 Cores

Among other things, the new GTX680 card for desktop PCs integrates a staggering 1,536 cores running at a clock speed of just over 1GHz as well as 2GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory. Moreover, clock speed can be slightly bumped to a higher boost frequency to maximize gaming performance.

"The most important thing to understand about GPU Boost is that it works through real-time Relevant Products/Services hardware monitoring as opposed to application based profiles," wrote James Wang, GeForce.com editor-in-chief. "As an algorithm, it attempts to find what is the appropriate GPU frequency and voltage for a given moment in time."

Built using 28-nanometer process technology, Nvidia claims its GTX680 delivers twice the performance per watt of the GeForce GTX 580 while consuming 28 percent less power than rival AMD's Radeon HD7970 GPU. The GTX680 also integrates a block of new streaming SMX multiprocessors that collectively deliver twice the performance per watt of previous-generation products, Nvidia said.

Additionally, Nvidia had unleashed a new GeForce 301.10 WHQL driver designed for use with the company's GeForce GTX 680 GPU. The new driver improves upon the multisampling anti-aliasing technology for removing jagged lines, and enhancing overall fidelity in gaming applications.

"With the launch of the GeForce 301.10 driver, a high-speed, shader-based anti-aliasing technique can be enabled directly through the Nvidia control panel," Burnes wrote. "Called FXAA, this technique is up to 60 percent faster than 4xMSAA."