While it was roughly 2 years from Maxwell 2 to Pascal, the journey to Turing has felt much longer despite a similar 2 year gap. There’s some truth to the feeling: looking at the past couple years, there’s been basically every other possible development in the GPU space except next-generation gaming video cards, like Intel’s planned return to discrete graphics, NVIDIA’s Volta, and cryptomining-specific cards. Finally, at Gamescom 2018, NVIDIA announced the GeForce RTX 20 series, built on TSMC’s 12nm “FFN” process and powered by the Turing GPU architecture. Launching today with full general availability is just the GeForce RTX 2080, as the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti was delayed a week to the 27th, while the GeForce RTX 2070 is due in October. So up for review today is the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and GeForce RTX 2080.

But a standard new generation of gaming GPUs this is not. The “GeForce RTX” brand, ousting the long-lived “GeForce GTX” moniker in favor of their announced “RTX technology” for real time ray tracing, aptly underlines NVIDIA’s new vision for the video card future. Like we saw last Friday, Turing and the GeForce RTX 20 series are designed around a set of specialized low-level hardware features and an intertwined ecosystem of supporting software currently in development. The central goal is a long-held dream of computer graphics researchers and engineers alike – real time ray tracing – and NVIDIA is aiming to bring that to gamers with their new cards, and willing to break some traditions on the way.

NVIDIA GeForce Specification Comparison
  RTX 2080 Ti RTX 2080 RTX 2070 GTX 1080
CUDA Cores 4352 2944 2304 2560
Core Clock 1350MHz 1515MHz 1410MHz 1607MHz
Boost Clock 1545MHz
FE: 1635MHz
1710MHz
FE: 1800MHz
1620MHz
FE: 1710MHz
1733MHz
Memory Clock 14Gbps GDDR6 14Gbps GDDR6 14Gbps GDDR6 10Gbps GDDR5X
Memory Bus Width 352-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
VRAM 11GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Single Precision Perf. 13.4 TFLOPs 10.1 TFLOPs 7.5 TFLOPs 8.9 TFLOPs
Tensor Perf. (INT4) 430TOPs 322TOPs 238TOPs N/A
Ray Perf. 10 GRays/s 8 GRays/s 6 GRays/s N/A
"RTX-OPS" 78T 60T 45T N/A
TDP 250W
FE: 260W
215W
FE: 225W
175W
FE: 185W
180W
GPU TU102 TU104 TU106 GP104
Transistor Count 18.6B 13.6B 10.8B 7.2B
Architecture Turing Turing Turing Pascal
Manufacturing Process TSMC 12nm "FFN" TSMC 12nm "FFN" TSMC 12nm "FFN" TSMC 16nm
Launch Date 09/27/2018 09/20/2018 10/2018 05/27/2016
Launch Price MSRP: $999
Founders $1199
MSRP: $699
Founders $799
MSRP: $499
Founders $599
MSRP: $599
Founders $699

As we discussed at the announcement, one of the major breaks is that NVIDIA is introducing GeForce RTX as the full upper tier stack with x80 Ti/x80/x70 stack, where it has previously tended towards the x80/x70 products first, and the x80 Ti as a mid-cycle refresh or competitive response. More intriguingly, each GeForce card has their own distinct GPU (TU102, TU104, and TU106), with direct Quadro and now Tesla variants of TU102 and TU104. While we covered the Turing architecture in the preceding article, the takeaway is that each chip is proportionally cut-down, including the specialized RT Cores and Tensor Cores; with clockspeeds roughly the same as Pascal, architectural changes and efficiency enhancements will be largely responsible for performance gains, along with the greater bandwidth of 14Gbps GDDR6.

And as far as we know, Turing technically did not trickle down from a bigger compute chip a la GP100, though at the architectural level it is strikingly similar to Volta/GV100. Die size brings more color to the story, because with TU106 at 454mm2, the smallest of the bunch is frankly humungous for a FinFET die nominally dedicated for a x70 GeForce product, and comparable in size to the 471mm2 GP102 inside the GTX 1080 Ti and Pascal Titans. Even excluding the cost and size of enabled RT Cores and Tensor Cores, a slab of FinFET silicon that large is unlikely to be packaged and priced like the popular $330 GTX 970 and still provide the margins NVIDIA is pursuing.

These observations are not so much to be pedantic, but more so to sketch out GeForce Turing’s positioning in relation to Pascal. Having separate GPUs for each model is the most expensive approach in terms of research and development, testing, validation, extra needed fab tooling/capacity – the list goes on. And it raises interesting questions on the matter of binning, yields, and salvage parts. Though NVIDIA certainly has the spare funds to go this route, there’s surely a better explanation than Turing being primarily designed for a premium-priced consumer product that cannot command the margins of professional parts. These all point to the known Turing GPUs as oriented for lower-volume, and NVIDIA’s financial quarterly reports indicate that GeForce product volume is a significant factor, not just ASP.

And on that note, the ‘reference’ Founders Edition models are no longer reference; the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070 Founders Editions feature 90MHz factory overclocks and 10W higher TDP, and NVIDIA does not plan to productize a reference card themselves. But arguably the biggest change is the move from blower-style coolers with a radial fan to an open air cooler with dual axial fans. The switch in design improves cooling capacity and lowers noise, but with the drawback that the card can no longer guarantee that it can cool itself. Because the open air design re-circulates the hot air back into the chassis, it is ultimately up to the chassis to properly exhaust the heat. In contrast, a blower pushes all the hot air through the back of the card and directly out of the case, regardless of the chassis airflow or case fans.

All-in-all, NVIDIA is keeping the Founders Edition premium, which is now $200 over the baseline ‘reference.’ Though AIB partner cards are also launching today, in practice the Founders Edition pricing is effectively the retail price until the launch rush has subsided.

The GeForce RTX 20 Series Competition: The GeForce GTX 10 Series

In the end, the preceding GeForce GTX 10 series ended up occupying an odd spot in the competitive landscape. After its arrival in mid-2016, only the lower end of the stack had direct competition, due to AMD’s solely mainstream/entry Polaris-based Radeon RX 400 series. AMD’s RX 500 series refresh in April 2017 didn’t fundamentally change that, and it was only until August 2017 that the higher-end Pascal parts had direct competition with their generational equal in RX Vega. But by that time, the GTX 1080 Ti (not to mention the Pascal Titans) was unchallenged. And all the while, an Ethereum-led resurgence of mining cryptocurrency on video cards was wreaking havoc on GPU pricing and inventory, first on Polaris products, then general mainstream parts, and finally affecting any and all GPUs.

Not that NVIDIA sat on their laurels with Vega, releasing the GTX 1070 Ti anyhow. But what was constant was how the pricing models evolved with the Founders Editions schema, the $1200 Titan X (Pascal), and then $700 GTX 1080 Ti and $1200 Titan Xp. Even the $3000 Titan V maintained gaming cred despite diverging greatly from previous Titan cards as firmly on the professional side of prosumer, basically allowing the product to capture both prosumers and price-no-object enthusiasts. Ultimately, these instances coincided with the rampant cryptomining price inflation and was mostly subsumed by it.

So the higher end of gaming video cards has been Pascal competing with itself and moving up the price brackets. For Turing, the GTX 1080 Ti has become the closest competitor. RX Vega performance hasn’t fundamentally changed, and the fallout appears to have snuffed out any Vega 10 parts, as well as Vega 14nm+ (i.e. 12nm) refreshes. As a competitive response, AMD doesn’t have many cards up their sleeves except the ones already played – game bundles (such as the current “Raise the Game” promotion), FreeSync/FreeSync 2, other hardware (CPU, APU, motherboard) bundles. Other than that, there’s a DXR driver in the works and a machine learning 7nm Vega on the horizon, but not much else is known, such as mobile discrete Vega. For AMD graphics cards on shelves right now, RX Vega is still hampered by high prices and low inventory/selection, remnants of cryptomining.

For the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and 2080, NVIDIA would like to sell you the RTX cards as your next upgrade regardless of what card you may have now, essentially because no other card can do what Turing’s features enable: real time raytracing effects ((and applied deep learning) in games. And because real time ray tracing offers graphical realism beyond what rasterization can muster, it’s not comparable to an older but still performant card. Unfortunately, none of those games have support for Turing’s features today, and may not for some time. Of course, NVIDIA maintains that the cards will provide expected top-tier performance in traditional gaming. Either way, while Founders Editions are fixed at their premium MSRP, custom cards are unsurprisingly listed at those same Founders Edition price points or higher.

Fall 2018 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
  $1199 GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
  $799 GeForce RTX 2080
  $709 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Radeon RX Vega 64 $569  
Radeon RX Vega 56 $489 GeForce GTX 1080
  $449 GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
  $399 GeForce GTX 1070
Radeon RX 580 (8GB) $269/$279 GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
(1280 cores)
Meet The New Future of Gaming: Different Than The Old One
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  • Dribble - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    The DLSS basically gives you a resolution jump for free (e.g. 4k for 1440p performance) and is really easy to implement. That's going to take off fast and probably means even the 2070 will be faster then the 1080Ti in games that support it. Reply
  • Lolimaster - Saturday, September 22, 2018 - link

    No not free, everyone can see the blurry mess the renamed blur effect is. Reply
  • Inteli - Saturday, September 22, 2018 - link

    TIL that when you stop isolating variables in a benchmark, a lower-end card can be faster than a higher-end card. Reply
  • tamalero - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Die size is irrelevant to consumers. They see price vs performance. not how big the silicon is.

    AMD was toasted for having hot slow chips. many times.. so did nvidia.. big and hot means nothing if it doesn't perform as expected for the insane prices they 're asking for.
    Reply
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Die size is not irrelevant to consumers because increased die size means increased cost to manufacture. Increased cost to manufacture means a pressure for higher prices. The question is what you get in return for those higher prices.

    People like what they know... what they are used to. If some new AA technique comes along and increases performance significantly but introduces visual artifacts it will be rejected as a step backwards. But if a new technology comes along that has a significant performance cost yet increases visual quality much more significantly than the aforementioned artifacts decrease it, people will also have a tendency to reject it. That is, until they become familiar with the technology... That's where we are with RTX. No one can become familiar with the technology when there are no games that make use of it. So trying to judge the value of the larger die sizes is an abstract thing. In a few months the situation will be different.

    Personally, I think the architecture will be remembered as one of the biggest and most important in the entire history of gaming. There is so much new technology in it that some of it barely anyone is saying much about (where have you heard about texture space shading, for example?). Several of these technologies will have their greatest benefits with VR, and if VR had taken off people would be marveling about this architecture immediately. But I think that VR will eventually take off, and I think several of these technologies will become the standard way of doing things for the next several years. They are new and complicated for developers, though. Only a few developers are prepared to take advantage of the stuff today. It's going to be some time before we really can put the architecture into its proper historical perspective.

    From the point of view of a purchase today, though, it's a bit of an unknown. If you buy a card now and plan to keep it for 4 years, I think you'd be better off getting a 20 series than a 10 series. If you buy it and keep it for 2 years, then it's a bit less clear, but we'll have a better idea of the answer to that question in 6 months, I think.

    I do think, though, that if an architecture with this much new stuff were introduced 20 years ago everybody, including games enthusiast sites like Anandtech, would be going gaga over it. The industry was moving faster then and people were more optimistic. Also the sites didn't try to be so demure. Hmm, gaga as the opposite of demure. Maybe that's why she's called Lady Gaga.
    Reply
  • Santoval - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    I agree that this might be the most game-changing graphics tech of the last couple of decades, and that the future belongs to ray-tracing, but I also think that precisely due to the general uncertainty and the very high prices Nvidia might suffer one of their biggest sales slumps this generation, if not *the* biggest. They did not handle the launch well : it is absurd to release a new series with zero ray-traced, DLSS supporting or mesh shaded games at launch.

    Their extensive NDAs, lack of information and ban on benchmarks between the Gamescom pre-launch and the actual launch, despite going live with (blind faith based) preorders during that window, was also controversial and highly suspicious. It appears that Nvidia gave graphics cards to game developers very late to avoid leaks, but that resulted in having no RTX supporting games at launch. They thought they could not have it both ways apparently, but choosing that over having RTX supporting games at launch was a very risky gamble.

    Since their sales will almost certainly slump, they should release 7nm based graphics cards (either a true 30xx series or Turing at 7nm, I guess the latter) much sooner, probably in around 6 months. They might have expected a sales slump, which is why they released 2080Ti now. I suppose they will try to avoid it with aggressive marketing and somewhat lower prices lately, but it is not certain they'll succeed.
    Reply
  • eddman - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Would you've still defended this if it was priced at $1500? How about $2000? Do you always ignore price when new tech is involved?

    The cards, themselves, aren't bad. They are actually very good. It's their pricing.

    These cards, specifically 2080 Ti, are overpriced compared to their direct predecessors. Ray tracing, DLSS, etc. etc. they still do not justify such prices for such FPS gains in regular rasterized games.

    A 2080 Ti might be an ok purchase for $850-900, but certainly not $1200+. Even 8800 GTX with its new cuda cores and new generation of lighting tech launched at the same MSRP as 7800 GTX.

    These cards are surely more expensive to make, but there is no doubt that the biggest factor for these price jumps is that nvidia is basically competing with themselves. Why price them lower when they can easily sell truckloads of pascal cards at their usual prices until the inventory is gone.
    Reply
  • Andrew LB - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    You, like so many others don't get it. nVidia has re-worked their product lines. Didn't you notice how the Ti came out at the same time as the 2080? You might also notice that Titan is now called Titan V (volta) and not GTX Titan. Titan is now in its own family of non-gaming cards and that is reflected in the driver section on their site. They now have titan specific drivers.

    Here, watch this. Jay explains it fairly well.

    https://youtu.be/5XRWATUDS7o?t=6m2s
    Reply
  • eddman - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    You took an opinion and decided it's a fact. It's not. That guy is not the authority on graphics cards.

    There is no official word that titan is now 2080 Ti. Nvidia named that card 2080 Ti, it has a 102 named chip. Nvidia themselves constantly compare it to 1080 Ti, which also has a 102 named chip, therefore it's the successor to 1080 Ti and it's very normal to expect similar pricing.

    Don't worry, there will be a Titan turing, considering that 2080 Ti does not even use the fully enabled chip.

    It's really baffling to see people, paying customers, defending a $1200 price tag. It is as if you like to be charged more.
    Reply
  • eddman - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    $1000, but it's still too high, and you cannot find any card at that price anyway. Reply

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