At Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference in 2010, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made some pretty dramatic claims about his company’s future GPU architecture, code-named Kepler. Huang predicted the chip would be nearly three times more efficient, in terms of FLOPS per watt, than the firm’s prior Fermi architecture. Those improvements, he said, would go “far beyond” the traditional advances chip companies can squeeze out of the move to a newer, smaller fabrication process. The gains would come from changes to the chip’s architecture, design, and software together. Fast forward to today, and it’s time to see whether Nvidia has hit its mark. The first chip based on the Kepler architecture is hitting the market, aboard a new graphics card called the GeForce GTX 680, and we now have a clear sense of what was involved in the creation of this chip. Although Kepler’s fundamental capabilities are largely unchanged versus the last generation, Nvidia has extensively refined and polished nearly every aspect of this GPU with an eye toward improved power efficiency. Kepler was developed under the direction of lead architect John Danskin and Sr. VP of GPU engineering Jonah Alben. Danskin and Alben told us th...