NVidia’s Turing architecture has entered the public realm, alongside an 83-page whitepaper, and is now ready for technical detailing. We have spoken with several nVidia engineers over the past few weeks, attended the technical editor’s day presentations, and have read through the whitepaper – there’s a lot to get through, so we will be breaking this content into pieces with easily navigable headers.
Turing is a modified Volta at its core, which is a heavily modified Pascal. Core architecture isn’t wholly unrecognizable between Turing and Pascal – you’d be able to figure out that they’re from the same company – but there are substantive changes within the Turing core.
We're ramping into GPU testing hard this week, with many tests and plans in the pipe for the impending and now-obvious RTX launch. As we ramp those tests, and continue publishing our various liquid metal tests (corrosion and aging tests), we're still working on following hardware news in the industry.
This week's round-up includes a video-only inclusion of the EVGA iCX2 mislabeling discussion that popped-up on reddit (links are still below), with written summaries of IP theft and breach of trust affecting the silicon manufacturing business, "GTX" 2060 theories, the RTX Hydro Copper and Hybrid cards, Intel's 14nm shortage, and more.
We’re finally nearing completion of our office move-in – as complete as a never-ending project can be, anyway. Our set table is now done, although not shown in today’s video, and the test room is getting filled. That’s the first news item. Work is finally getting produced in the office.
Aside from that, the week has been packed with hardware news. This is one of our densest episodes in recent months, and features a response to the Tom’s Hardware debacle (by Thomas Pabst himself), NVIDIA’s own performance expectations of the RTX 2080, AMD strategic shuffling, and more.
As always, show notes are after the video.
We’re at PAX West 2018 for just one day this year (primarily for a discussion panel), but stopped by the Gigabyte booth for a hands-on with the new RTX cards. As with most other manufacturers, these cards aren’t 100% finalized yet, although they do have some near-final cooling designs. The models shown today appear to use the reference PCB design with hand-made elements to the coolers, as partners had limited time to prepare. Gigabyte expects to have custom PCB solutions at a later date.
We had an opportunity to disassemble multiple EVGA RTX video cards, including the EVGA RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, the latter featuring assistance from Der8auer of Caseking’s booth. Our coverage is still going live as we edit, render, and upload, but the immediate news item pertains to die size.
Update: Added a correction for SM / CUDA Core numbers, now that full details have been leaked.
NVIDIA announced its new Turing video cards for gaming today, including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, and RTX 2070. The cards move forward with an upgraded-but-familiar Volta architecture, with some changes to the SMs and memory. The new RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti ship with reference cards first, and partner cards largely at the same time (with some more advanced models coming 1+ month later), depending on which partner it is. The board partners did not receive pricing or even card naming until around the same time as media, so expect delays in custom solutions. Note that we were originally hearing a 1-3 month latency on partner cards, but that looks to be only for advanced models that are just now entering production. Most tri-fan models should come available on the same date.
Another major point of consideration is NVIDIA's decision to use a dual-axial reference card, eliminating much of the value of partner cards at the low-end. Moving away from blower reference cards and toward dual-fan cards will most immediately impact board partners, something that could lead to a slow crawl of NVIDIA expanding its direct-to-consumer sales and bypassing partners. The RTX 2080 Ti will be priced at $1200 and will launch on September 20, with the 2080 at $800 (and September 20), and the 2070 at $600 (TBD release date).
It’s hard to intentionally get scammed – to set out there and really try to get ripped-off, outside of maybe paying AT&T or Spectrum for internet. We still tried, though. We bought this GTX 1050 “1GB” card that was listed on eBay. At least, that’s what it was called. The card was $80 and was advertised as a new GTX 1050, and even came with this definitely-not-questionable CD and unbranded brown box. Opening up GPU-Z, it even thinks this is a GTX 1050, and knows it has 1GB of RAM. Today, we’ll benchmark the card and explain how this scam works.
We’ll keep this one short; despite benchmarking a full suite of games, you really sort of get the point after 3-4 charts. The more important thing – the only important thing, really – is what’s under the cooler. We’ll take the card apart after a couple of charts and talk about what’s really in there, because it sure doesn’t behave like a GTX 1050 would (not even one with “1GB” of VRAM, which doesn’t exist).
A quick note: There is no officially sanctioned or created GTX 1050 “1GB” card, and so the usual board partners (and nVidia) have no part in this. This is sold as an unbranded, brown box video card on eBay.
This is something we haven’t seen before. NVidia has taken a relatively successful card, the GT 1030, and has implanted DDR4 in place of GDDR5. It’s actually getting system memory on it, which is a tremendous downgrade. The memory bandwidth reduction is several-fold, dropping from 48GB/s to about 16GB/s with DDR4, but the part that’s truly wrong is that they used the same product name.
The GT 1030 has always been an interesting product, and that’s only true because of the mining boom and GPU scarcity issues of earlier this year. Typically, the GT 1030 – or similarly ultra-low-end cards – would not get our recommendation, as a GTX 1050 or RX 550 would make more sense and be close in price. Earlier this year, even GTX 1050s and RX 550s had evaporated, leaving only overpriced GT 1030 GDDR5 cards (that we were somewhat OK with recommending). Fortunately, performance was decent. Was. Before the DDR4 surgery.
It’s time to benchmark the GT 1030 versus the GT 1030 Bad Edition, which ships with DDR4 instead of GDDR5, but has the same name as the original product. In a previous rant, we railed against these choices because it misleads consumers – whether intentionally or unintentionally – into purchasing a product that doesn’t reflect the benchmarks. If someone looks up GT 1030 benchmarks, they’ll find our GDDR5 version tests, and those results are wildly different from the similarly priced GT 1030 DDR4 card’s performance. On average, particularly on Newegg, there is about a $10 difference between the two cards.
The GT 1030 with DDR4 is one of the most egregious missteps we’ve seen when it comes to product marketing. NVidia has made a lot of great products in the past year – and we’ve even recommended the GT 1030 GDDR5 card in some instances, which is rare for us – but the DDR4 version under the same name was a mistake.
Some new rumors have indicated an nVidia GPU launch in “late July,” which correspond with our previous GDDR6 timelines putting us in July-September for a launch date. Our long-standing estimate has been August to September for the most probable launch window. We’d still plant it in August, but Tom’s seems to be reporting late July.
The hardware world has been busy for the past week. This week's news recap covers one rumor -- speculation that Intel "might" show a GPU in 2019 -- and then covers major news stories. One of those is Intel's Z390 chipset, whose block diagram has been detailed against existing Z370 block diagrams. We'll talk those chipset differences in the show notes (and the video) below. NVidia's earnings report also showed remarkably strong performance for the company, with mining revenue marking a new category of earnings at $289 million. What's unclear is how that's tracked -- we don't know if that's direct-to-miner sales, e.g. selling to large mining operations, or if that's also counting users who buy 10 GPUs at a time on Newegg. The latter might appear like a normal "gaming" purchase, depending on how it's all tracked and broken-down.
A handful of other news items are also present, including net neutrality discussion, Corsair's Obsidian 1000D and Spec-Omega, and a couple of other items. Learn more in the video below or, if you prefer written text, the show notes below that.
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