The launch of the Kepler family of GPUs in March of 2012 was something of a departure from the normal for NVIDIA. Over the years NVIDIA has come to be known among other things for their big and powerful GPUs. NVIDIA had always produced a large 500mm2+ GPU to serve both as a flagship GPU for their consumer lines and the fundamental GPU for their Quadro and Tesla lines, and have always launched with that big GPU first.

So when the Kepler family launched first with the GK104 and GK107 GPUs – powering the GeForce GTX 680 and GeForce GT 640M respectively – it was unusual to say the least. In place of “Big Kepler”, we got a lean GPU that was built around graphics first and foremost, focusing on efficiency and in the process forgoing a lot of the compute performance NVIDIA had come to be known for in the past generation. The end result of this efficiency paid off nicely for NVIDIA, with GTX 680 handily surpassing AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 at the time of its launch in both raw performance and in power efficiency.

Big Kepler was not forgotten however. First introduced at GTC 2012, GK110 as it would come to be known would be NVIDIA’s traditional big, powerful GPU for the Kepler family. Building upon NVIDIA’s work with GK104 while at the same time following in the footsteps of NVIDIA’s compute-heavy GF100 GPU, GK110 would be NVIDIA’s magnum opus for the Kepler family.

Taped out later than the rest of the Kepler family, GK110 has taken a slightly different route to get to market. Rather than launching in a consumer product first, GK110 was first launched as the heart of NVIDIA’s Tesla K20 family of GPUs, the new cornerstone of NVIDIA’s rapidly growing GPU compute business.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan Supercomputer

Or perhaps as it’s better known, the GPU at the heart of the world’s fastest supercomputer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer.

The Titan supercomputer was a major win for NVIDIA, and likely the breakthrough they’ve been looking for. A fledging business merely two generations prior, NVIDIA and their Tesla family have quickly shot up in prestige and size, much to the delight of NVIDIA. Their GPU computing business is still relatively small – consumer GPUs dwarf it and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future – but it’s now a proven business for NVIDIA. More to the point however, winning contracts like Titan are a major source of press and goodwill for the company, and goodwill the company intends to capitalize on.

With the launch of the Titan supercomputer and the Tesla K20 family now behind them, NVIDIA is now ready to focus their attention back on the consumer market. Ready to bring their big and powerful GK110 GPU to the consumer market, in typical NVIDIA fashion they intend to make a spectacle of it. In NVIDIA’s mind there’s only one name suitable for the first consumer card born of the same GPU as their greatest computing project: GeForce GTX Titan.

GeForce GTX Titan: By The Numbers

At the time of the GK110 launch at GTC, we didn’t know if and when GK110 would ever make it down to consumer hands. From a practical perspective GTX 680 was still clearly in the lead over AMD’s Radeon HD 7970. Meanwhile the Titan supercomputer was a major contract for NVIDIA, and something they needed to prioritize. 18,688 551mm2 GPUs for a single customer is a very large order, and at the same time orders for Tesla K20 cards were continuing to pour in each and every day after GTC. In the end, yes, GK110 would come to the consumer market. But not until months later, after NVIDIA had the chance to start filling Tesla orders. And today is that day.

Much like the launch of the GTX 690 before it, NVIDIA intends to stretch this launch out a bit to maximize the amount of press they get. Today we can tell you all about Titan – its specs, its construction, and its features – but not about its measured performance. For that you will have to come back on Thursday, when we can give you our benchmarks and performance analysis.

  GTX Titan GTX 690 GTX 680 GTX 580
Stream Processors 2688 2 x 1536 1536 512
Texture Units 224 2 x 128 128 64
ROPs 48 2 x 32 32 48
Core Clock 837MHz 915MHz 1006MHz 772MHz
Shader Clock N/A N/A N/A 1544MHz
Boost Clock 876Mhz 1019MHz 1058MHz N/A
Memory Clock 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 4.008GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 384-bit 2 x 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit
VRAM 6 2 x 2GB 2GB 1.5GB
FP64 1/3 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/8 FP32
TDP 250W 300W 195W 244W
Transistor Count 7.1B 2 x 3.5B 3.5B 3B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm
Launch Price $999 $999 $499 $499

Diving right into things then, at the heart of the GeForce GTX Titan we have the GK110 GPU. By virtue of this being the 2nd product to be launched based off the GK110 GPU, there are no great mysteries here about GK110’s capabilities. We’ve covered GK110 in depth from a compute perspective, so many of these numbers should be familiar with our long-time readers.

GK110 is composed of 15 of NVIDIA’s SMXes, each of which in turn is composed of a number of functional units. Every GK110 packs 192 FP32 CUDA cores, 64 FP64 CUDA cores, 64KB of L1 cache, 65K 32bit registers, and 16 texture units. These SMXes are in turn paired with GK110’s 6 ROP partitions, each one composed of 8 ROPs, 256KB of L2 cache, and connected to a 64bit memory controller. Altogether GK110 is a massive chip, coming in at 7.1 billion transistors, occupying 551mm2 on TSMC’s 28nm process.

For Titan NVIDIA will be using a partially disabled GK110 GPU. Titan will have all 6 ROP partitions and the full 384bit memory bus enabled, but only 14 of the 15 SMXes will be enabled. In terms of functional units this gives Titan a final count of 2688 FP 32 CUDA cores, 896 FP64 CUDA cores, 224 texture units, and 48 ROPs. This makes Titan virtually identical to NVIDIA’s most powerful Tesla, K20X, which ships with the same configuration. NVIDIA does not currently ship any products with all 15 SMXes enabled, and though NVIDIA will never really explain why this is – yield, power, or otherwise – if nothing else it leaves them an obvious outlet for growth if they need to further improve Titan’s performance, by enabling that 15th SMX.

Of course functional units are only half the story, so let’s talk about clockspeeds. As a rule of thumb bigger GPUs don’t clock as high as smaller GPUs, and Titan will be adhering to this rule. Whereas GTX 680 shipped with a base clock of 1006MHz, Titan ships at a more modest 837MHz, making up for any clockspeed disadvantage with the brute force behind having so many functional units. Like GTX 680 (and unlike Tesla), boost clocks are once more present, with Titan’s official boost clock coming in at 876MHz, while the maximum boost clock can potentially be much higher.

On the memory side of things, Titan ships with a full 6GB of GDDR5. As a luxury card NVIDIA went for broke here and simply equipped the card with as much RAM as is technically possible, rather than stopping at 3GB. You wouldn’t know that from looking at their memory clocks though; even with 24 GDDR5 memory chips, NVIDIA is shipping Titan at the same 6GHz effective memory clock as the rest of the high-end GeForce 600 series cards, giving the card 288GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

To put all of this in perspective, on paper (and at base clocks), GTX 680 can offer just shy of 3.1 TFLOPS of FP32 performance, 128GTexels/second texturing throughput, and 32GPixels/second rendering throughput, driven by 192GB/sec of memory bandwidth. Titan on the other hand can offer 4.5 TFLOPS of FP32 performance, 187GTexels/second texturing throughput, 40GPixels/second rendering throughput, and is driven by a 288GB/sec memory bus. This gives Titan 46% more shading/compute and texturing performance, 25% more pixel throughput, and a full 50% more memory bandwidth than GTX 680. Simply put, thanks to GK110 Titan is a far more powerful GPU than what GK104 could accomplish.

Of course with great power comes great power bills, to which Titan is no exception. In GTX 680’s drive for efficiency NVIDIA got GTX 680 down to a TDP of 195W with a power target of 170W, a remarkable position given both the competition and NVIDIA’s prior generation products. Titan on the other hand will have a flat 250W power target – in line with prior generation big NVIDIA GPUs – staking out its own spot on the price/power hierarchy, some 28%-47% higher in power consumption than GTX 680. These values are almost identical to the upper and lower theoretical performance gaps between Titan and GTX 680, so performance is growing in-line with power consumption, but only just. From a practical perspective Titan achieves a similar level of efficiency as GTX 680, but as a full compute chip it’s unquestionably not as lean. There’s a lot of compute baggage present that GK104 didn’t have to deal with.

Who’s Titan For, Anyhow?
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  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Congratulations to all you whining amd fanboy freaks who lost the POINT of the rebuttal....

    Some amd fruitcake OWS idiot squealed profits are going through the roof (jhonny dough boy)...

    It was pointed out AMD is a failing, debt ridden, dying, sack of in the red losses loser company just about blwon to bankruptcy smithereens...

    But then when do amd fanboys pay attention to their helping hand demise of their big fave AMD ?
    Answer: NEVER
    Reason: They constantly beg and bag for lower pricing and squeal amd does just that every time. Then they wait for nVidia to DESTROY amd pricing with awesome nVidia hardware... at that point they take their pauper pennies and JUMP on that AMD card-- raping the bottom line into more BILLIONS of losses for amd, while they attack nVidia and scream corporate profit...

    LOL
    Moral of the history and current idiocy of the flapping lipped fools who get it 100% incorrect while they bloviate for their verdetrol master amd.

    The amd fanboys have just about destroyed amd as a going venture...

    I congratulate the clueless FOOLS for slaying the idiot crash monkey lousy video card junk producer amd.
    Reply
  • Scott586 - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Wow TheJian, shut up already. We stopped reading 1/2-way thru the 2nd sentence. Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Thanks for taking what was a relevant comment correcting the previous poster and turning it into an inaccurate, ill-informed vitriolic rant about politics. That was... unprecedented. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    I enjoyed it, a lot. It was not however unprecedented, mr liar.

    As I so clearly recall, very recently on another little review here, the left wing raging amd fan OWS protester went on a wild diatribe cursing out those who dared not use their powerful system to organize political action and other such ventures like curing cancer, thus "disusing" their personal systems...

    So no, the wacko collectivist beat him to it.
    Reply
  • BurtGravy - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    That escalated quickly. Reply
  • iEATu - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    I stopped reading when you started talking about Reagan and cutting taxes creates businesses. Based off of history with Reagan, revenue did NOT come in because big businesses took advantage of the tax cuts and nothing changed except to make big business more powerful and the richest people richer. Reply
  • 3DPA - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Wow....this certainly got off topic. The only hope for America is for the US to became a tax haven for the rest of the world...similar to what Singapore did (and they are hugely prosperous). When you factor in under funded pensions, social security and medicare, the real US debt comes to around $86 trillion. You need to drop the US corporate tax rate from the highest in the world (I think around 30% to 35%) to the lowest. When you look at electronics manufacturing, the cost of building off-shore in China really only saves you 7% in labor because 90% of electronic assembly is automated. So you save 7%, but then you lose 4% shipping it back to the US thanks to the price of oil. So you really end up saving 3%. Given all the hassles of dealing with manufacturing half-way around the world, 3% savings is really not that attractive. So why do companies move electronics manufacturing over-seas? Because they save on tax...to the tune of 10% to 15%. You want to bring electronics manufacturing jobs back to the US? Just lower the corporate tax rate to something more globally competitive like 15% to 20%. This will create HUGE influx of job growth in the US. And what happens when more people are working? You broaden the tax base so tax revenue increases. Also, remember that close to $1 Trillion of corporate profits is sitting in foreign banks ($100 Billion of that belongs to Apple) because they don't want to pay the huge US corporate tax rates. Lower that tax rate and all that money flows back into the US where it can be used for investment in the US...which creates more opportunity...etc....etc...etc...

    So don't believe it when the Obama administration can't solve the US debt issue. It can be solved. But it just kills a socialist/communist president to cut corporate America a break even though not to do so causes us even more harm.

    You know.....I have yet to meet anyone that actually thinks Obama is doing a good job or is good for the country. I hear more negative talk, more jokes, seen more negative books published about him and heard more dooms-day scenarios with his name at the middle of it than any other president in memory.

    So how did he get re-elected?

    Well...there is one good thing I can say about Obama: He made me appreciate Bill Clinton.
    Reply
  • azixtgo - Sunday, November 10, 2013 - link

    higher prices mean fewer sales. Lower prices mean lower margins. They have to find some balance and I doubt anyone here knows enough to know where that balance is. My thinking is that both companies make too many chips (desktop market). They price desirable chips too high for the average person. Maybe they should make fewer chips and make upgrades more desirable.

    Both consoles have sold millions already. I doubt it will be that game changing for them. Another thing is that AMD is letting their desktop CPU market suffer. They have not put out better chipsets for their FX processors in a good while so even people who would buy the fx processors may not do so when they see what they get with the motherboard (they do not even have mATX motherboards for these processors AFAIK.) I doubt the APUs will make up for the FX shortfalls. Intel on the other hand offers a less complicated setup. Companies do not just lose profits on lower prices and I am inclined to think the prices can stand to be lower based on what both nvidia and amd have done recently

    eg. 280X is a 7970 being sold for $300. GTX 780 now sells for 499. Are they at the balance point? I don't know. i just don't think they are optimizing their market presence at all
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    No, the GK110 isn't cheaper to produce, not by a long shot, and Intel's profit margin for their CPUs are quite a bit higher than Nvidia's or AMD's for the graphics solutions. It's pretty amazing considering the GPUs are far bigger.

    I was hoping for a price around $800, but expecting it to be $900-1200. Sure, I wish it was less, but Nvidia isn't out of line here.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    I agree. It's quiet, it sips power, it's the fastest, it has the features amd lacks, which are many and considerable. It has stable drivers, it is well built, it has 6G of ram, thus making it the most future proof to date, just recently of utmost importance to all the amd fanboys 3G quacking Skyrim mods baggers, now they can eat dirt, then mud from the delicious tears.

    Yeah pretty sick of the constant CEO price "absolutears" here on every dang release, squealing out price perf bang for buck whines and lies and pauper protestations in betwixt bragging about their knowledge and prowess and spewing fanboy fave.

    If you're a fanboy get off your butt and toss a few papers so you can buy a ding dang video card without wailing like a homeless vagrant.
    Reply

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