Although we're barely into August, both AMD and NVIDIA are already making their first moves for their next generation products due at the end of this year and into next year. AMD has recently told investors that it intends to release products using 28nm GPUs this year, and now NVIDIA is telling developers something similar
At their GTC Workshop Japan event, NVIDIA's Senior VP of Research Chris Malachowsky let developers know that the company is expecting that Kepler "should start shipping by the end of the year." Kepler will be the basis of NVIDIA's next generation of GPUs, and like AMD's forthcoming products is expected to be fabricated on TSMC's 28nm process. Though the focus at an event like GTC is primarily on workstation (Quadro) and server (Tesla) products, historically NVIDIA has shipped consumer (GeForce) products first, so it's likely that we're looking at the first shipping date for NVIDIA's newest GeForce parts.
Of course it goes without saying that shipping a GPU is not the same as a video card being available for sale - NVIDIA has made their sale once they ship a GPU to a partner. So NVIDIA shipping Kepler GPUs this year does not necessarily mean that the resulting video cards will also be available this year.
As for performance, it shouldn't come as any surprise that NVIDIA is offering few details - never mind the fact that GTC isn't the venue for gaming performance. For GTC NVIDIA is talking about double precision performance, which looks like it will become a major race between AMD and NVIDIA for this upcoming generation. For Kepler NVIDIA is expecting "about 3x improvement in [double precision] performance per watt," which would be a combination of the die shrink and architectural changes
Update: NVIDIA sent Xbit a clarification that puts the brakes on things.
"Although we will have early silicon this year, Kepler-based products are actually scheduled to go into production in 2012. We wanted to clarify this so people wouldn’t expect product to be available this year,"
So technically Kepler GPUs would still ship to partners this year, but "early silicon" normally signifies GPUs that aren't quite production worthy yet. In any case finished video cards definitely won't be out this year given NVIDIA's latest statement.
Source: Xbit Labs