Continuing our SC12 related coverage today, while AMD was the first GPU announcement of the day they are not the only one. NVIDIA is also using the venue to launch their major GPU compute product for the year: Tesla K20.

We first saw Tesla K20 at NVIDIA’s 2012 GPU Technology Conference, where NVIDIA first announced the K20 along with the already shipping K10. At the time NVIDIA was still bringing up the GPU behind K20 – GK110 – with the early announcement at GTC offering an early look at the functionality it would offer in order to prime the pump for developers. At the time we knew quite a bit about its functionality, but not its pricing, configuration, or performance.

More recently, upon completion of K20 NVIDIA has dedicated most of the initial allocation to Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer, completing delivery on a contract years in the making. As it turned out K20 was quite powerful indeed, and with K20 providing some 90% of the computational throughput of the supercomputer, Titan has taken the #1 spot on the fall Top500 supercomputer list.

This brings us to today. With Titan complete NVIDIA can now focus their attention and their GPU allocations towards making the Tesla K20 family available to the public at large. With SC12 and the announcement of the new Top500 list as their backdrop, today NVIDIA will be officially launching the Tesla K20 family of compute GPUs.

NVIDIA Tesla Family Specification Comparison
  Tesla K20X Tesla K20 Tesla M2090 Tesla M2070Q
Stream Processors 2688 2496 512 448
Core Clock 732MHz 706MHz 650MHz 575MHz
Shader Clock N/A N/A 1300MHz 1150MHz
Memory Clock 5.2GHz GDDR5 5.2GHz GDDR5 3.7GHz GDDR5 3.13GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 384-bit 320-bit 384-bit 384-bit
Single Precision 3.95 TFLOPS 3.52 TFLOPS 1.33 TFLOPS 1.03 TFLOPS
Double Precision 1.31 TFLOPS (1/3) 1.17 TFLOPS (1/3) 655 GFLOPS (1/2) 515 GFLOPS (1/2)
Transistor Count 7.1B 7.1B 3B 3B
TDP 235W 225W 250W 225W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Architecture Kepler Kepler Fermi Fermi
Launch Price >$3199 $3199? N/A N/A

When NVIDIA first announced K20 back in May we were given a number of details about the GK110 GPU that would power it, but because they were still in the process of bringing up the final silicon for GK110 we knew little about the shipping configuration for K20. What we could say for sure is that GK110 was being built with 15 SMXes, 6 memory controllers, 1.5MB of L2 cache, and that it would offer double precision (FP64) performance that was 1/3rd its single precision (FP32 rate). Now with the launch of the K20 we finally have details on what the shipping configurations will be for K20.

First and foremost, K20 will not be a single GPU but rather it will be a family of GPUs. NVIDIA has split up what was previously announced as a single GPU into two GPUs: K20 and K20X. K20X is the more powerful of these GPUs, featuring 14 active SMXes along with all 6 memory controllers and 1.5MB of L2 cache, attached to 6GB of GDDR5. It will be clocked at 732MHz for the core clock and 5.2GHz for the memory clock. This sets a very high bar for theoretical performance, with FP32 performance at 3.95 TFLOPS, FP64 performance at 1.31 TFLOPS, and fed by some 250GB/sec of memory bandwidth. For those of you who have kept an eye on Titan, these are the same specs as the GPUs Titan, and though NVIDIA would not name it at the time we can now confirm that Titan is in fact composed of K20X GPUs and not K20.

Below K20X will be the regular K20. K20 gives up 1 SMX and 1 memory controller, giving it 13 SMXes, 5 memory controllers, 1.25MB of L2 cache, and 5GB of GDDR5. It will also be clocked slightly lower than K20X, with a shipping core clock of 706MHz while the memory clock is held at 5.2GHz. This will give K20 theoretical performance numbers around 3.52 TFLOPS for FP32, 1.17 TFLOPS for FP64, fed by 208GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

This split ends up being very similar to what NVIDIA eventually did with the Fermi generation of Tesla products such as the M2090 and M2075, spacing their products not only by performance and pricing, but also by power consumption. K20X will be NVIDIA’s leading Tesla K20 product, offering the best performance at the highest power consumption (235W). K20 meanwhile will be cheaper, a bit slower, and perhaps most importantly lower power at 225W. On that note, despite the fact that the difference is all of 10W, 225W is a very important cutoff in the HPC space – many servers and chasses are designed around that being their maximum TDP for PCIe cards – so it was important for NVIDIA to offer as fast a card as possible at this TDP, alongside the more powerful but more power hungry K20X. This tiered approach also enables the usual binning tricks, allowing NVIDIA to do something with chips that won’t hit the mark for K20X.

Moving on, at the moment NVIDIA is showing off the passively cooled K20 family design, confirming in the process that both K20 and K20X can be passively cooled as is the standard for servers. NVIDIA’s initial wave of focus for the Telsa K20 is going to be on servers (it is SC12 after all), but with K20 also being an integral part of NVIDIA’s next-generation Maximus strategy we’re sure to see actively cooled workstation models soon enough.

NVIDIA Launches Tesla K20, Cont
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  • Assimilator87 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    nVidia already sells a $1k consumer graphics card, aka the GTX 690, so why can't they introduce one more?
  • HisDivineOrder - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    More to the point, they don't need to. The performance of the GK104 is more or less on par with AMD's best. If you don't need to lose money keeping up with the best your opponent has, then why should you lose money?

    Keep in mind, they're charging $500 (and have been charging $500) for a GPU clearly built to be in the $200-$300 segment when their chief opponent in the discrete GPU space can't go a month without either dropping the prices of their lines or offering up a new, even larger bundle. This is in spite of the fact that AMD has released not one but two spectacular performance driver updates and nVidia disappeared on the driver front for about six months.

    Yet even still nVidia charges more for less and makes money hand over fist. Yeah, I don't think nVidia even needs to release anything based on Big Daddy Kepler when Little Sister Kepler is easily handing AMD its butt.
  • RussianSensation - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    "Big Daddy Kepler when Little Sister Kepler is easily handing AMD its butt."

    Only in sales. Almost all major professional reviewers have handed the win to HD7970 Ghz as of June 2012. With recent drivers, HD7970 Ghz is beating GTX680 rather easily:

    Your statement that Little Kepler is handing AMD's butt is absurd when it's slower and costs more. If NV's loyal consumers want a slower and more expensive card, more power to them.

    Also, it's evident based on how long it took NV to get volume production on K20/20X, that they used GK104 because GK100/110 wasn't ready. It worked out well for them and hopefully we will get a very powerful GTX780 card next generation based on GK110 (or perhaps some other variant).

    Still, your comment flies in the face of facts since GK104 was never build to be a $200-300 GPU because NV couldn't possibly have launched a volume 7B chip since they are only now shipping thousands of them. Why would NV open pre-orders for K20 parts in Spring 2012 and let its key corporate customers wait until November 2012 to start getting their orders filled? This clearly doesn't add up with what you are saying.

    Secondly, you make it sound like price drops on AMD's part are a sign of desperation but you don't acknowledge that NV's cards have been overpriced since June 2012. That's a double standard alright. As a consumer, I welcome price drops from both camps. If NV drops prices, I like that. Funny how some people view price drops as some negative outcome for us consumers...
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - link

    So legion has the 7970 vanilla winning nearly every benchmark.
    I guess amd fanboys can pull out all the stops, or as we know, they are clueless as you are.

    Oh look at that, the super expensive amd radeon ICE Q X2 GIGAHERTZ EDITION overclocked can't even beat a vanilla MSI 680 .


    Reality sucks for amd fanboys.
  • Gastec - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Right now ,in the middle of the night, an idea sprang into my abused brain. nVidia is like Apple. And their graphical cards are like the iPhones. There's always a few millions of people willing to buy their producs no matter what, no matter what price they put up. Even if the rest of the world would stop buying nVidia and iPhones at least there will always be some millions of amaricans to will buy them, and their sons and their sons' sons and so on and so forth until the end of days. Heck even one of my friends when we were chatting about computers components uttered the words: "So you are not a fan of nVidia? You know it has PhysX." In my mind I was like : "FAN? What the...I bought my ATI card because it was cheaper and consumed less power so I pay less money when the bloo...electricity bill comes" And after reading all your comments I understand now what you mean by "fanboy" or "fanboi" whatever. Typically american bs.
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - link

    LOL - another amd fanboy idiot who needs help looking in the mirror.
  • Kevin G - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    A consumer card would make sense if yields are relatively poor. A die this massive has to have a very few fully functional chips (in fact, K20X only has 14 of 15 SMX clusters enabled). I can see a consumer card with 10 or 12 SMX clusters being active depending on yields for successful K20 and K20X dies.
  • RussianSensation - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    It would also make sense if the yields are very good. If your yields are exceptional, you can manufacture enough GK110 die to satisfy both the corporate and consumer needs. Right now the demand for GK110 is outstripping supply. Based on what NV has said, their yields are very good. The main issue is wafer supply. I think we could reasonably see a GK110 consumer card next year. Maybe they will make a lean gaming card though as a lot of features in GK110 won't be used by gamers.
  • Dribble - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Hope not - much better to give us another GK104 style architecture but increase the core count.
  • wiyosaya - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    IMHO, at these prices, I won't be buying one, nor do I think that the average enthusiast is going to be interesting in paying perhaps one and a half to three times the price of a good performance PC for a single Tesla card. Though nVidia will probably make hoards of money from supercomputing centers, I think they are doing this while forsaking the enthusiast market.

    The 600 series seriously cripples double-precision floating point capabilities making a Tesla an imperative for anyone needing real DP performance, however, I won't be buying one. Now if one of the 600 series had DP performance on par or better than the 500 series, I would have bought one rather than buying a 580.

    I don't game much, however, I do run several BOINC projects, and at least one of those projects requires DP support. For that reason, I chose a 580 rather than a 680.

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