Earlier this week NVIDIA announced their new top-end single-GPU consumer card, the GeForce GTX Titan. Built on NVIDIA’s GK110 and named after the same supercomputer that GK110 first powered, the GTX Titan is in many ways the apex of the Kepler family of GPUs first introduced nearly one year ago. With anywhere between 25% and 50% more resources than NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 680, Titan is intended to be the ultimate single-GPU card for this generation.

Meanwhile with the launch of Titan NVIDIA has repositioned their traditional video card lineup to change who the ultimate video card will be chasing. With a price of $999 Titan is decidedly out of the price/performance race; Titan will be a luxury product, geared towards a mix of low-end compute customers and ultra-enthusiasts who can justify buying a luxury product to get their hands on a GK110 video card. So in many ways this is a different kind of launch than any other high performance consumer card that has come before it.

So where does that leave us? On Tuesday we could talk about Titan’s specifications, construction, architecture, and features. But the all-important performance data would be withheld another two days until today. So with Thursday finally upon us, let’s finish our look at Titan with our collected performance data and our analysis.

Titan: A Performance Summary

  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 6GB 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

On paper, compared to GTX 680, Titan offers anywhere between a 25% and 50% increase in resource. At the starting end, Titan comes with 25% more ROP throughput, a combination of Titan’s 50% increase in ROP count and simultaneous decrease in clockspeeds relative to GTX 680. Shading and texturing performance meanwhile benefits even more from the expansion of the number of SMXes, from 8 to 14. And finally, Titan has a full 50% more memory bandwidth than GTX 680.

Setting aside the unique scenario of compute for a moment, this means that Titan will be between 25% and 50% faster than GTX 680 in GPU limited situations, depending on the game/application and its mix of resource usage. For an industry and userbase still trying to come to terms with the loss of nearly annual half-node jumps, this kind of performance jump on the same node is quite remarkable. At the same time it also sets expectations for how future products may unfold; one way to compensate for the loss of the rapid cadence in manufacturing nodes is to spread out the gains from a new node over multiple years, and this is essentially what we’ve seen with the Kepler family by launching GK104, and a year later GK110.

In any case, while Titan can improve gaming performance by up to 50%, NVIDIA has decided to release Titan as a luxury product with a price roughly 120% higher than the GTX 680. This means that Titan will not be positioned to push the price of NVIDIA’s current cards down, and in fact it’s priced right off the currently hyper-competitive price-performance curve that the GTX 680/670 and Radeon HD 7970GE/7970 currently occupy.

February 2013 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
  $1000 GeForce Titan/GTX 690
(Unofficial) Radeon HD 7990 $900  
Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition $450 GeForce GTX 680
Radeon HD 7970 $390  
  $350 GeForce GTX 670
Radeon HD 7950 $300  

This setup isn’t unprecedented – the GTX 690 more or less created this precedent last May – but it means Titan is a very straightforward case of paying 120% more for 50% more performance; the last 10% always costs more. What this means is that the vast majority of gamers will simply be shut out from Titan at this price, but for those who can afford Titan’s $999 price tag NVIDIA believes they have put together a powerful card and a convincing case to pay for luxury.

So what can potential Titan buyers look forward to on the performance front? As always we’ll do a complete breakdown of performance in the following pages, but we wanted to open up this article with a quick summary of performance. So with that said, let’s take a look at some numbers.

GeForce GTX Titan Performance Summary (2560x1440)
  vs. GTX 680 vs. GTX 690 vs. R7970GE vs. R7990
Average +47% -15% 34% -19%
Dirt: Showdown 47% -5% 3% -38%
Total War: Shogun 2 50% -15% 62% 1%
Hitman: Absolution 34% -15% 18% -15%
Sleeping Dogs 49% -15% 17% -30%
Crysis 54% -13% 21% -25%
Far Cry 3 35% -23% 37% -15%
Battlefield 3 48% -18% 52% -11%
Civilization V 59% -9% 60% 0

Looking first at NVIDIA’s product line, Titan is anywhere between 33% and 54% faster than the GTX 680. In fact with the exception of Hitman: Absolution, a somewhat CPU-bound benchmark, Titan’s performance relative to the GTX 680 is actually very consistent at a narrow 45%-55% range. Titan and GTX 680 are of course based on the same fundamental Kepler architecture, so there haven’t been any fundamental architecture changes between the two; Titan is exactly what you’d expect out of a bigger Kepler GPU. At the same time this is made all the more interesting due to the fact that Titan’s real-world performance advantage of 45%-55% is so close to its peak theoretical performance advantage of 50%, indicating that Titan doesn’t lose much (if anything) in efficiency when scaled up, and that the games we’re testing today favor memory bandwidth and shader/texturing performance over ROP throughput.

Moving on, while Titan offers a very consistent performance advantage over the architecturally similar GTX 680, it’s quite a different story when compared to AMD’s fastest single-GPU product, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. As we’ve seen time and time again this generation, the difference in performance between AMD and NVIDIA GPUs not only varies with the test and settings, but dramatically so. As a result Titan is anywhere between being merely equal to the 7970GE to being nearly a generation ahead of it.

At the low-end of the scale we have DiRT: Showdown, where Titan’s lead is less than 3%. At the other end is Total War: Shogun 2, where Titan is a good 62% faster than the 7970GE. The average gain over the 7970GE is almost right in the middle at 34%, reflecting a mix of games where the two are close, the two are far, and the two are anywhere in between. With recent driver advancements having helped the 7970GE pull ahead of the GTX 680, NVIDIA had to work harder to take back their lead and to do so in an concrete manner.

Titan’s final competition are the dual-GPU cards of this generation, the GK104 based GTX 690, and the officially unofficial Tahiti based HD 7990 cards, which vary in specs but generally have just shy of the performance of a pair of 7970s. As we’ve seen in past generations, when it comes to raw performance one big GPU is no match for two smaller GPUs, and the same is true with Titan. For frames per second and nothing else, Titan cannot compete with those cards. But as we’ll see there are still some very good reasons for Titan’s existence, and areas Titan excels at that even two lesser GPUs cannot match.

None of this of course accounts for compute. Simply put, Titan stands alone in the compute world. As the first consumer GK110 GPU based video card there’s nothing quite like it. We’ll see why that is in our look at compute performance, but as far as the competitive landscape is concerned there’s not a lot to discuss here.

The Final Word On Overclocking
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  • chizow - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    You must not have followed the development of GPUs, and particularly flagship GPUs very closely in the last decade or so.

    G80, the first "Compute GPGPU" as Nvidia put it, was first and foremost a graphics part and a kickass one at that. Each flagship GPU after, GT200, GT200b, GF100, GF110 have continued in this vein...driven by the desktop graphics market first, Tesla/compute market second. Hell, the Tesla business did not even exist until the GeForceTesla200. Jensen Huang, Nvidia's CEO, even got on stage likening his GPUs to superheroes with day jobs as graphics cards while transforming into supercomputers at night.

    Now Nvidia flips the script, holds back the flagship GPU from the gaming market that *MADE IT POSSIBLE* and wants to charge you $1K because it's got "SuperComputer Guts"??? That's bait and switch, stab in the back, whatever you want to call it. So yes, if you were actually in this market before, Nvidia has screwed you over to the tune of $1K for something that used to cost $500-$650 max.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    You only spend at max $360 for a video card as you stated, so this doesn't affect you and you haven't been screwed.

    Grow up crybaby. A company may chagre what it desires, and since you're never buying, who cares how many times you scream they screwed everyone ?
    NO ONE CARES, not even you, since you never even pony up $500, as you yourself stated in this long, continuous crybaby whine you made here, and have been making, since the 680 was released, or rather, since Charlie fried your brain with his propaganda.

    Go get your 98 cent a gallon gasoline while you're at it , you fool.
    Reply
  • chizow - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Uh no, I've spent over $1K in a single GPU purchasing transaction, have you? I didn't think so.

    I'm just unwilling to spend *$2K* for what cost $1K in the past for less than the expected increase in performance. I spent $700 this round instead of the usual $1K because that's all I was willing to pay for a mid-range ASIC in GK104 and while it was still a significant upgrade to my last set of $1K worth of graphics cards, I wasn't going to plunk down $1K for a set of mid-range GK104 GTX 680s.

    It's obvious you have never bought in this range of GPUs in the past, otherwise you wouldn't be posting such retarded replys for what is clearly usurious pricing by Nvidia.

    Now go away, idiot.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Wrong again, as usual.
    So what it boils down to is you're a cheapskate, still disgruntled, still believe in Charlie D's lie, and are angry you won't have the current top card at a price you demand.
    I saw your whole griping list in the other thread too, but none of what you purchase or don't purchase makes a single but of difference when it comes to your insane tinfoil hat lies that you have used for your entire argument

    Once again, pretending you aren't aware of production capacity leaves you right where you brainless rant started a long time ago.

    You cover your tracks whining about ATI's initial price, which wasn't out of line either, and ignore nVidia's immediate crushing of it when the 680 came out, as you still complained about the performance increase there. You're a crybaby, that's it.

    That's what you have done now for months on end, whined and whined and whined, and got caught over and over in exaggerations and lies, demanding a perfectly increasing price perf line slanting upwards, for years on end, lying about it's past, which I caught you on in the earlier reviews.

    Well dummy, that's not how performance/price increases work in any area of computer parts, anyway.
    Glad you're just another freaking parrot, as the reviewers have trained you fools to automaton levels.
    Reply
  • Pontius - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    My only interest at the moment is OpenCL compute performance. Sad to see it's not working at the moment, but once they get the kinks worked out, I would really love to see some benchmarks.

    Also, as any GPGPU programmer knows, the number one bottleneck for GPU computing is randomly accessing memory. If you are working only within the on-chip local memory, then yes, you get blazingly fast speeds on a GPU. However, the second you do something as simple as a += on a global memory location, your performance grinds to a screeching halt. I would really like to see the performance of these cards on random memory heavy OpenCL benchmarks. Thanks for the review!
    Reply
  • codedivine - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    We may do this in the future if I get some time off from univ work. Stay tuned :) Reply
  • Pontius - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Thanks codedevine, I'll keep an eye out. Reply
  • Pontius - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    My only interest at the moment is OpenCL compute performance. Sad to see it's not working at the moment, but once they get the kinks worked out, I would really love to see some benchmarks.

    Also, as any GPGPU programmer knows, the number one bottleneck for GPU computing is randomly accessing memory. If you are working only within the on-chip local memory, then yes, you get blazingly fast speeds on a GPU. However, the second you do something as simple as a += on a global memory location, your performance grinds to a screeching halt. I would really like to see the performance of these cards on random memory heavy OpenCL benchmarks. Thanks for the review!
    Reply
  • Bat123Man - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    The Titan is nothing more than a proof-of-concept; "Look what we can do! Whohoo! Souped up to the max!" Nvidia is not intending this card to be for everyone. They know it will be picked up by a few well-moneyed enthusiasts, but it is really just a science project so that when people think about "the fastest GPU on the market", they think Nvidia.

    How often do you guys buy the best of the best as soon as it is out the door anyway ? $1000, $2000, it makes no difference, most of us wouldn't buy it even at 500 bucks. This is all about bragging rights, pure and simple.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Not exactly. The chip isn't fully enabled. Reply

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