Nvidia has been mum about their upcoming Pascal architecture, even as rival AMD has been showing off their new Polaris chips at CES. Set to launch in 2016 as well, we’re now getting a hint that Pascal may soon be ready. According to shipment tracking site Zabua, several chips likely to be GP104 were sent out on December 29th last year. With engineering samples out, Nvidia may have GP104 ready in about 6 months.
Being a 37.5×37.5mm BGA package, the chip is most likely the GP104, replacing the current GM204 which comes in at about 40x40mm. Since GP104 is “small Pascal”, it will likely come as a GTX 970/980 replacement for the GM204. As with the Kepler and Maxwell releases, Nvidia probably plans to lead with their smaller dies first and later launch their top end GP110 chips in order to maximise sales.
With Pascal engineering samples just shipped, it looks like AMD will have several months lead on Nvidia for the upcoming process node. Given the gains Polaris has shown off, Pascal may do the same. With Maxwell as efficient as it is though, Pascal will probably find most of its efficiency gains from the new 16nm node. It will be interesting to see which direction Pascal will take Nvidia.