NVIDIA Launches Tesla K20, Cont

To put the Tesla K20's performance in perspective, this is going to be a very significant increase in the level of compute performance NVIDIA can offer with the Tesla lineup. The Fermi based M2090 offered 655 GFLOPS of performance with FP64 workloads, while the K20X will straight-up double that with 1.31 TFLOPS. Meanwhile in the 225W envelope the 1.17 TFLOPS K20 will be replacing the 515 GFLOPS M2075, more than doubling NVIDIA’s FP64 performance there. As for FP32 workloads the gains are even greater due to the fact that NVIDIA’s FP64 rate has fallen from ½ on GF100/GF110 Fermi to 1/3 on GK110 Kepler; the 1.33 TFLOPS M2090 for example is being replaced by the 3.95 TFLOPS K20X.

Speaking of FP32 performance, when asked about the K10 NVIDIA told us that K20 would not be replacing K10, rather the two will exist side-by-side. K10 actually has better FP32 performance at 4.5 TFLOPs (albeit split across two GPUs), but as it’s based on the GK104 GPU it lacks some Tesla features like on-die (SRAM) ECC protection and HyperQ/Dynamic Parallelism. For the user base that could already be sufficiently served by the K10 it will continue to exist for those users, while for the FP64 users and users who needed ECC and other Tesla features K20 will now step up to the plate as NVIDIA’s other FP32 compute powerhouse.

The Tesla K20 family will be going up against a number of competitors, both traditional and new. On a macro level the K20 family and supercomputers based on it like Titan will go up against more traditional supercomputers like those based on IBM’s BlueGene/Q hardware, which Titan is just now dethroning in the Top500 list.

A Titan compute board: 4 AMD Opteron (16-core CPUs) + 4 NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPUs

Meanwhile on a micro/individual level the K20 family will be going up against products like AMD’s FirePro S9000 and FirePro S10000, along with Intel’s Xeon Phi, their first product based on their GPU-like MIC architecture. Both the Xeon Phi and FirePro S series can exceed 1 TFLOPS FP64 performance, making them potentially strong competition for the K20. Ultimately these products aren’t going to be separated by their theoretical performance but rather their real world performance, so while NVIDIA has a significant 30%+ lead in theoretical performance over their most similar competition (FirePro S9000 and Xeon Phi) it's too early to tell whether the real world performance difference will be quite that large, or conversely whether it will be even larger. Tool chains will also play a huge part here, with K20 relying predominantly on CUDA, the FirePro S on OpenCL, and the Xeon Phi on x86 coupled with Phi-specific tools.

Finally, let’s talk about pricing and availability. NVIDIA’s previous projection for K20 family availability was December, but they have now moved ahead by a couple of weeks. K20 products are already shipping to NVIDIA’s server partners, with those partners and NVIDIA both getting ready to ship to buyers soon after that. NVIDIA’s general guidance is November-December, so some customers should have K20 cards in their hands before the end of the month.

Meanwhile pricing will be in the $3000 to $5000 range, owing mostly to the fact that NVIDIA’s list prices rarely line up with the retail price of their cards, or what their server partners charge customers for specific cards. Back at the Quadro K5000 launch NVIDIA announced a MSRP of $3199 for the K20, and we’d expect the shipping K20 to trend close to that. Meanwhile we expect the K20X to trend closer to $4000-$5000, again depending on various markup factors.

K20 Pricing As Announced During Quadro K5000 Launch

As for the total number of cards they’re looking at shipping and the breakdown of K20/K20X, NVIDIA’s professional solutions group is as mum as usual, but whatever it is we’re being told it won’t initially be enough.  NVIDIA is already taking pre-orders through their server partners, with a very large number of pre-orders outstripping the supply of cards and creating a backlog.

Interestingly NVIDIA tells us that their yields are terrific – a statement backed up in their latest financial statement – so the problem NVIDIA is facing appears to be demand and allocation rather than manufacturing. This isn’t necessarily a good problem to have as either situation involves NVIDIA selling fewer Teslas than they’d like, but it’s the better of the two scenarios. Similarly, for the last month NVIDIA has been offering time on a K20 cluster to customers, only for it to end up being oversubscribed due to the high demand from customers. So NVIDIA has no shortage of customers at the moment.

Ultimately the Tesla K20 launch appears to be shaping up very well for NVIDIA. Fermi was NVIDIA’s first “modern” compute architecture, and while it didn’t drive the kind of exponential growth that NVIDIA had once predicted it was very well received regardless. Though there’s no guarantee that Tesla K20 will finally hit that billion dollar mark, the K20 enthusiasm coming out of NVIDIA is significant, legitimate, and infectious. Powering the #1 computer in the Top500 list is a critical milestone for the company’s Tesla business and is just about the most positive press the company could ever hope for. With Titan behind them, Tesla K20 may be just what the company needs to finally vault themselves into a position as a premiere supplier of HPC processors.

NVIDIA Launches Tesla K20 GK110: The GPU Behind Tesla K20


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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? Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - link

    LOL - another amd fanboy idiot who needs help looking in the mirror. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • Dribble - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Hope not - much better to give us another GK104 style architecture but increase the core count. Reply
  • 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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