Nvidia has confirmed that the Fermi card held up by Jen-Hsun on stage wasn't real, but was adamant that the demos were.
On Wednesday, Nvidia CEO and President Jen-Hsun Huang showed off what was believed to be the world's first Fermi-based graphics card, but upon closer inspection, we found out that the card was indeed a mock up.
The first alarm bells started ringing while I was waiting for an interview and noticed the card being heavily guarded by one of Nvidia's PR managers. I asked if I could take a closer look and I noted that there was no GPU under the heatsink and then started to take some more detailed pictures of the card.
It wasn't until I got back to my hotel room that I realised the card wasn't real, where I noticed the PCB had been cut down to fit the shiny heatsink's dimensions. The power connectors also don't line up with the contact points on the board and there are contact points for a second DVI connector. We're sure there are quite a few more discrepancies too, but we haven't spent a great deal of time looking any closer.
When I questioned Nvidia about this, it confirmed that the board was a mock up and that we'd see product shots as soon as the board designs have been completed. The company was adamant that the demos on stage were in fact real and said that the bring up board has wires dangling from it, so it isn't a pretty sight at the moment.
Being the sceptic that I am, I asked if I could see the boards used for the demos, but I was told that all of the cards had already gone back to Nvidia's labs to continue the bring up process - they want to get the cards in gamers' hands as soon as possible, after all. However, I did a bit of digging and managed to see a blurry-cam shot on a mobile phone of what my source claimed was one of the bring up boards.
It was difficult to make out any of the components, but it looked like some kind of weird explosive device based on the number of wires coming out of it. Also, while the source was happy to show me the photo, they said they couldn't give me the picture, let alone post it - we're going to have to wait and see what the real Fermi looks like.
This kind of stunt isn't exactly cool, but given the early nature of the silicon, it was almost entirely expected... it was a visual aid that was convincing from a distance, but not so when you got up close and personal to it. Hopefully, Nvidia will learn from this particular lesson, but I guess it shows how excited the company is about Fermi.
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