Synthetics

As always we’ll also take a quick look at synthetic performance. These tests mainly serve as a canary for finding important architectural changes, and with the exception of pixel throughput we are not expecting any major changes for GTX 980 and GM204.

Synthetic: TessMark, Image Set 4, 64x Tessellation

GM204 is designed to have an ever-so-slightly higher triangle throughput rate than GK110 – 16 tris/clock versus 15 tris/clock, and sure enough the GTX 980 comes out on top in TessMark, slightly edging out the GTX 780 Ti. The difference is only very slight here, and though GM204 should be a bit more powerful than GK110 in practice it’s a dead heat.

Moving on, we have our 3DMark Vantage texture and pixel fillrate tests, which present our cards with massive amounts of texturing and color blending work. These aren’t results we suggest comparing across different vendors, but they’re good for tracking improvements and changes within a single product family.

Synthetic: 3DMark Vantage Texel Fill

Beginning with Maxwell NVIDIA reduced their texture-to-compute ratio from 12:1 to 16:1. As a result of this change Maxwell GPUs have fewer texture units than comparable Kepler GPUs. Compounding this effect is the fact that Maxwell CUDA cores are more efficient than Kepler CUDA cores, leading to NVIDIA placing fewer cores overall and further reducing the texture fill rate.

As a result the GTX 980 is not texture fillrate competitive with any of the GK110 cards. It is competitive with the GK104 cards, but only because these cards had the same number of texture units at 128. NVIDIA has told us that they believe this new ratio is a better fit for modern workloads, and judging from the performance we’re seeing elsewhere it would appear that NVIDIA is right.

Synthetic: 3DMark Vantage Pixel Fill

On the other hand, thanks to NVIDIA’s newer 3rd generation delta color compression technology, our 3DMark pixel fillrate performance is through the roof. GTX 980 comes very close to doubling the throughput of our GK110 cards and more than doubles the throughput of the GK104 cards, reflecting the fact that it has 64 ROPs and more importantly has the available bandwidth to put them to good use.

This benchmark in a nutshell is why NVIDIA can deliver chart-topping performance despite having only 2/3rds the memory bandwidth of GTX 780 Ti. By improving their color compression to this point, NVIDIA can significantly reduce their memory bandwidth requirements Maxwell 2, allowing them to do more with less. In real games the result won’t be anywhere near this remarkable since this is a pure pixel fillrate test, but it goes to show that NVIDIA has been able to expand their effective memory bandwidth in concert with their ROP and shader performance improvements.

GRID 2 Compute
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  • Sttm - Thursday, September 18, 2014 - link

    "How will AMD and NVIDIA solve the problem they face and bring newer, better products to the market?"

    My suggestion is they send their CEOs over to Intel to beg on their knees for access to their 14nm process. This is getting silly, GPUs shouldn't be 4 years behind CPUs on process node. Someone cut Intel a big fat check and get this done already.
    Reply
  • joepaxxx - Thursday, September 18, 2014 - link

    It's not just about having access to the process technology and fab. The cost of actually designing and verifying an SoC at nodes past 28nm is approaching the breaking point for most markets, that's why companies aren't jumping on to them. I saw one estimate of 500 million for development of a 16/14nm device. You better have a pretty good lock on the market to spend that kind of money. Reply
  • extide - Friday, September 19, 2014 - link

    Yeah, but the GPU market is not one of those markets where the verification cost will break the bank, dude. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, September 19, 2014 - link

    Seriously, nVidia's market cap is $10 billion dollars, they can spend a tiny fortune moving to 20nm and beyond...if they want too.

    I just don't think they want to saturate their previous products with such leaps and bounds in performance while also absolutely destroying their competition.

    Moving to a smaller process isn't out of nVidia's reach, I just don't think they have a competitive incentive to spend the money on it. They've already been accused of becoming a monopoly after purchasing 3Dfx, and it'd be painful if AMD/ATI exited the PC graphics market because nVidia's Maxwell's, being twice as efficient as GCN, were priced identically.
    Reply
  • bernstein - Friday, September 19, 2014 - link

    atm. it is out of reach to them. at least from a financial perspective.
    while it would be awesome to have maxwell designed for & produced on intel's 14nm process, intel doesn't even have the capacity to produce all of their own cpus... until fall 2015 (broadwell xeon-ep release)...
    Reply
  • kron123456789 - Friday, September 19, 2014 - link

    "it also marks the end of support for NVIDIA’s D3D10 GPUs: the 8, 9, 100, 200, and 300 series. Beginning with R343 these products are no longer supported in new driver branches and have been moved to legacy status." - This is it. The time has come to buy a new card to replace my GeForce 9800GT :) Reply
  • bobwya - Friday, September 19, 2014 - link

    Such a modern card - why bother :-) The 980 will finally replace my 8800 GTX. Now that's a genuinely old card!!
    Actually I mainly need to do the upgrade because the power bills are so ridiculous for the 8800 GTX! For pities sake the card only has one power profile (high power usage).
    Reply
  • djscrew - Friday, September 19, 2014 - link

    Like +1 Reply
  • kron123456789 - Saturday, September 20, 2014 - link

    Oh yeah, modern :) It's only 6 years old) But it can handle even Tomb Raider at 1080p with 30-40fps at medium settings :) Reply
  • SkyBill40 - Saturday, September 20, 2014 - link

    I've got an 8800 GTS 640MB still running in my mom's rig that's far more than what she'd ever need. Despite getting great performance from my MSI 660Ti OC 2GB Power Edition, it might be time to consider moving up the ladder since finding another identical card at a decent price for SLI likely wouldn't be worth the effort.

    So, either I sell off this 660Ti, give it to her, or hold onto it for a HTPC build at some point down the line. Decision, decisions. :)
    Reply

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