Nvidia May Have Misled Consumers About Its GTX 970 Graphics Chip
Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP today launched an investigation today into allegations that Nvidia misled consumers about the technical specifications of its GTX 970 graphics processing units. Consumers who purchased graphics cards containing the GTX 970 should contact us for a free consultation regarding their legal rights.
Specifically, Nvidia marketed and advertised the GTX 970 as containing a full 4 GB of video RAM (“VRAM”), which would provide superior graphics performance, as well as 2 MB of L2 cache and 64 parallel processing cores known as Render Output Units (“ROPs”). Nvidia, however, has now acknowledged that these statements were misleading, as the company “failed to communicate this internally to our marketing team, and externally to reviewers at launch.”
Nvidia’s marketing omitted the fact that the GTX 970’s VRAM is divided into two segments: a 3.5 GB high-priority segment running at full performance and a slower, low-priority 0.5 GB segment. In fact, the slower segment runs at at only 28 GB/second, as compared to 192 GB/second on the higher segment. This design also creates a performance bottleneck that prevents the chip from simultaneously using its full 4 GB of VRAM for sustained reads and writes.
By partially disabling parts of the chip, Nvida also reduced the advertised number of ROPs from 64 to 56 and the L2 cache from 2 MB to 1.75 MB. As AnandTech explained:
As for why NVIDIA is using such a configuration here, the crux of the matter is money and yields. Without the ability to partially disable a ROP/MC partition, NVIDIA would either have to spec a card to use a fully enabled partition – essentially reducing yields for that card and driving up costs – or disable the entire partition and lose all of the benefits of the additional ROPs, memory, and the memory controller. This finer granularity allows NVIDIA to better control how they harvest bad chips and what resulting configurations they bring to market, along with making a single ROP/L2 defect less harmful to overall performance by keeping the rest of a partition online. Otherwise, to stick with a “balanced” configuration with as many crossbar ports as DRAM modules would result in either a higher spec GTX 970, or a lower spec card with a 192-bit memory bus.
But in their attempts to save money, Nvidia failed to accurately describe the technical specifications of the card, a fact they’ve now admitted. As a result, if you have purchased a graphics card or computer that contains the Nvidia GTX 970, you may have slower and inconsistent graphics performance. Please contact us by completing the form (at right) to discuss our investigation into the issue and possible legal actions. You may also contact Noah Schubert by phone at 415.788.4220.