Today is quite a big day for anyone waiting on AMD to release their Vega GPUs. NVidia just made the decision harder by releasing a brand new GPU – perhaps the most powerful consumer GPU ever to be made – and bringing some of that new magic to its older cards as well.
The GTX 1080Ti
The numbers we are going to speak of are straight from NVidia. Since these are not based on benchmarks by unaffiliated reviewers, do take them with a slight grain of salt.
First things first: the GTX 1080Ti TDP is rated at 250 watts delivered via 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe connectors. Now, let’s get to what the GPU can do with those 250 watts.
A GPU is a complicated thing, but most of the magic happens within the GPU microchip. The GTX 1080Ti is using the same GP102 GPU as NVidia’s Titan X. They both have 3,584 stream processors, 224 texture units, 6 graphics processing clusters and 28 streaming multiprocessors. The base clock speed of the GPU is identical as well. The Titan X costs about $1,100. The GTX 1080Ti is $699.
NVidia claims that the GTX 1080Ti is about 35% faster than the GTX 1080, which is slightly faster than the $1,100 Titan X. So how exactly is the $700 card faster than the $1,100 beast when everything is identical? Easy: not everything is identical.
Although the GTX 1080Ti and Titan X are using an identical GP102 GPU, there is a slight difference with the memory. The GTX 1080Ti is featuring an odd 11 GB of GDDR5X memory. This odd memory on GTX 1080Ti is clocked at 11Ghz, rather than the 10Ghz present on the Titan X.
The slight difference in memory gives the GTX 1080Ti a higher memory bandwidth of 484GB/s. Also, while the Titan X and GTX 1080Ti share the same base clock speed, the boost clock speed is slightly higher at 1.6Ghz for GTX 1080Ti. NVidia even promises a clock speed of 2Ghz after a quick overclock.
These two slight differences give the GTX 1080Ti an edge over the Titan X.
In addition to these performance improvements, NVidia also claims to have made some improvements to the vapor chamber cooling system. The GTX 1080Ti should deliver the same temperatures but now with less fan noise.
The GTX 1080 & 1060 SKUs
In addition to the new GTX 1080Ti, NVidia also made a few other announcements. This is the part that could hurt AMD’s Vega ambitions.
The memory improvements present in the new GTX 1080Ti are trickling down over to the GTX 1080 and 1060 via a new SKU. This isn’t a magical driver update, of course, since this requires hardware changes.
If you plan to buy a new GTX 1080 or 1060 soon, do keep this in mind. These new SKU’s will be pre-overclocked. The GTX 1080 will feature the same 11Ghz memory as GTX 1080Ti, while the GTX 1060 will feature a slower-yet-still-better 9Ghz memory.
NVidia hasn’t announced the pricing for these new SKUs yet, but a release is due for “later in the year.”
Since the current breed of GTX 1080 is now inferior to this newly announced SKU, NVidia decided it would be wise to drop the price.
The GTX 1080 should now retail for $499, though retailers aren’t yet reflecting the new price.
So, here’s the summary: the new GTX 1080Ti is here; a new SKU for GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 is coming sometime this year; the existing GTX 1080 is now cheaper.
NVidia expects the card to be available on retail shelves beginning from the 6th of March. However, preorders for the card will open on the 2nd of March at 8 AM Pacific on Nvidia.com.
The GTX 1080Ti retails for $699.
The new SKUs for GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 are expected sometime “later in the year,” but NVidia hasn’t given us a concrete date just yet.
The existing GTX 1080 prices should fall as soon as retailers clear their inventory and buy new stocks from NVidia. At least, that’s what we hope for.
These announcements are significant, not just for the consumers but also for AMD. Since the GTX 1080 now costs less, AMD will also have to drop its planned prices for the already-squeezed high-end GPU sales.
Alas, competition is good for everyone, except for the loser. Time will tell who that is.