We’ve reported recently that Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is planning to unveil the first ever Pascal graphics card at next month’s upcoming GPU Technology Conference. With a plan to launch the first line-up of Pascal graphics cards at Computex this summer. A report from benchlife claims that the GTX 1080 based on the GP104 Pascal GPU, boasting 8GB of GDDR5/GDDR5X memory and a single 8-pin connector is launching this summer. But whether GP104 or the bigger GP100 GPU will be unveiled next month at GTC remains to be seen.
The report indicates that indeed, the rumors that have been floating around in the past couple of weeks seem to be accurate. That is the first ever Pascal graphics card will debut at GTC with Pascal based GeForce GTX cards launching at Computex. Interestingly, we’ve also just received another report indicating that a GTX 1070 launch will accompany the GTX 1080 and will be available in Q3 2016 this summer.
A source tells us that this demo is scheduled for April 5th during Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang’s keynote. A pascal graphics board will allegedly be showcased on stage during the keynote. This time we’re told that it’s not just going to be a prototype to visually demonstrate the form factor like last year, but feature an actual working Pascal chip.
Nvidia Has A Card Up Their Sleeve For GTC 2016
Something rather interesting is that all of Nvidia’s scheduled talks at GTC start with one or two alphabets and the digit six. That is they all follow this formula X6###. Where X is one or two letters, six is constant and # is a variable number. Keeping this in mind, the opening keynote of Nvidia’s CEO is given the variable 699.
As it happens, the four different Nvidia Pascal graphics cards that we had spotted just a few days ago shipping between Nvidia’s different facilities all carried this very same serial number, matching that of Jen-Hsun’s keynote. Are we looking at demo graphics cards here? we simply don’t know right now. Never the less we thought that even if this is merely coincidence it’s intriguing enough to warrant a mention. With that in mind please remember to take this with a grain of salt.
This Upcoming GTC Could Be A Very Exciting One
Rumors aside we can’t think of any better event for Nvidia to showcase to the world what actual Pascal graphics cards look like and what they’re capable. After all the architecture itself was introduced and detailed by the company at last year’s GTC. This is really makes the perfect opportunity for the company to show off its highly anticipated Pascal graphics cards. Especially after pascal’s absence from the Drive PX2 demo at CES and it’s substitution with mobility Maxwell had raised so many eye brows.
First Pascal Graphics Cards Rumored To Launch As Early As June At Computex
Moving on the second tidbit dealing with Pascal’s actual arrival to market. This one comes directly from sweclockers.com where the site claims that Nvidia is planning to launch its very first lineup of Pascal graphics cards at Computex in June. This launch will specifically be for the mobility lineup going into gaming notebooks. Swerclockers makes no mention of when we should expect desktop Pascal graphics cards but the site goes on to claim that Nvidia is facing challenges bringing Pascal up to speed on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET which they say will in all liklihood throw a wrench in the company’s plans.
The plan to introduce the mobility lineup in mid June has reportedly been set in motion but could face delays owing to the ambiguity of Pascal’s readiness. As such the probability of a paper launch in Computex or a postponement the launch entirely to a later date is described as being “great” the site reports.
The reports of Nvidia wanting to launch its chips on the mobile side first are likely grounded in reality. The company will want to deliver mobile Pascal products on time for the OEMs’ product refresh cycle before in the back to school season which spans July to September.
To a great extent a similar limitation does not exist for desktop PCs for a variety of factors. For one the AIB market commands the lion’s share of the desktop graphics market. Additionally OEMs have much greater flexibility switching out graphics cards in their desktop products. This means that we might be looking at market availability of desktop Pascal graphics cards around Q3 to Q4 of this year.
Nvidia’s Pascal : Everything We Know Right Now
We’ve learned last year that Nvidia’s flagship Pascal code named GP100 may have taped out on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET manufacturing process in June. Interestingly just shortly afterwards AMD announced that it had taped out two FinFET chips. It’s absolutely not a coincidence that both companies completed their FinFET designs at the same time. Both are pushing for a very aggressive time to market timetable to debut their next generation FinFET based GPUs this year.
What we know so far about Nvidia’s flagship Pascal GP100 GPU :
- Pascal graphics architecture.
- 2x performance per watt estimated improvement over Maxwell.
- To launch in 2016, purportedly the second half of the year.
- DirectX 12 feature level 12_1 or higher.
- Successor to the GM200 GPU found in the GTX Titan X and GTX 980 Ti.
- Built on the 16nm FinFET manufacturing process from TSMC.
- Allegedly has a total of 17 billion transistors, more than twice that of GM200.
- Will feature four 4-Hi HBM2 stacks, for a total of 16GB of VRAM and 8-Hi stacks for up to 32GB for the professional compute SKUs.
- Features a 4096-bit memory bus interface, same as AMD’s Fiji GPU power the Fury series.
- Features NVLink (only compatible with next generation IBM PowerPC server processors)
- Supports half precision FP16 compute at twice the rate of full precision FP32.
|GPU Architecture||NVIDIA Fermi||NVIDIA Kepler||NVIDIA Maxwell||NVIDIA Pascal|
|GPU Process||40nm||28nm||28nm||16nm (TSMC FinFET)|
|GPU Design||SM (Streaming Multiprocessor)||SMX (Streaming Multiprocessor)||SMM (Streaming Multiprocessor Maxwell)||SMP (Streaming Multiprocessor Pascal)|
|Maximum Transistors||3.00 Billion||7.08 Billion||8.00 Billion||15.3 Billion|
|Maximum Die Size||520mm2||561mm2||601mm2||610mm2|
|Stream Processors Per Compute Unit||32 SPs||192 SPs||128 SPs||64 SPs|
|Maximum CUDA Cores||512 CCs (16 CUs)||2880 CCs (15 CUs)||3072 CCs (24 CUs)||3840 CCs (60 CUs)|
|FP32 Compute||1.33 TFLOPs(Tesla)||5.10 TFLOPs (Tesla)||6.10 TFLOPs (Tesla)||~12 TFLOPs (Tesla)|
|FP64 Compute||0.66 TFLOPs (Tesla)||1.43 TFLOPs (Tesla)||0.20 TFLOPs (Tesla)||5.5 TFLOPs(Tesla)|
|Maximum VRAM||1.5 GB GDDR5||6 GB GDDR5||12 GB GDDR5||16 / 32 GB HBM2|
|Maximum Bandwidth||192 GB/s||336 GB/s||336 GB/s||1 TB/s|
|Launch Year||2010 (GTX 580)||2014 (GTX Titan Black)||2015 (GTX Titan X)||2016|
Nvidia Pascal – 2X Perf/Watt, Stacked Memory, NV-Link And Mixed Precision Compute
TSMC’s new 16nm FinFET process promises to be significantly more power efficient than planar 28nm. It also promises to bring about a considerable improvement in transistor density. Which would enable Nvidia to build faster, significantly more complex and more power efficient GPUs.
TSMC’s 16FF+ (FinFET Plus) technology can provide above 65 percent higher speed, around 2 times the density, or 70 percent less power than its 28HPM technology. Comparing with 20SoC technology, 16FF+ provides extra 40% higher speed and 60% power saving. By leveraging the experience of 20SoC technology, TSMC 16FF+ shares the same metal backend process in order to quickly improve yield and demonstrate process maturity for time-to-market value.
Apart from HBM2 and 16nm there is one big compute-centric feature that Nvidia will debut with Pascal. And it’s NVLink. Pascal will be the first GPU from the company to support this new proprietary server interconnect.
NVIDIA Volta GPUs and IBM Power9 CPUs Enabled Supercomputers in 2017:The technology targets GPU accelerated servers where the cross-chip communication is extremely bandwidth limited and a major system bottleneck. Nvidia states that NV-Link will be up to 5 to 12 times faster than traditional PCIE 3.0 making it a major step forward in platform atomics. Earlier this year Nvidia announced that IBM will be integrating this new interconnect into its upcoming PowerPC server CPUs. NVLink will debut with Nvidia’s Pascal in 2016 before it makes its way to Volta in 2018.
NVLink is an energy-efficient, high-bandwidth communications channel that uses up to three times less energy to move data on the node at speeds 5-12 times conventional PCIe Gen3 x16. First available in the NVIDIA Pascal GPU architecture, NVLink enables fast communication between the CPU and the GPU, or between multiple GPUs. Figure 3: NVLink is a key building block in the compute node of Summit and Sierra supercomputers.
VOLTA GPU Featuring NVLINK and Stacked Memory NVLINK GPU high speed interconnect 80-200 GB/s 3D Stacked Memory 4x Higher Bandwidth (~1 TB/s) 3x Larger Capacity 4x More Energy Efficient per bit.
NVLink is a key technology in Summit’s and Sierra’s server node architecture, enabling IBM POWER CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs to access each other’s memory fast and seamlessly. From a programmer’s perspective, NVLink erases the visible distinctions of data separately attached to the CPU and the GPU by “merging” the memory systems of the CPU and the GPU with a high-speed interconnect. Because both CPU and GPU have their own memory controllers, the underlying memory systems can be optimized differently (the GPU’s for bandwidth, the CPU’s for latency) while still presenting as a unified memory system to both processors. NVLink offers two distinct benefits for HPC customers. First, it delivers improved application performance, simply by virtue of greatly increased bandwidth between elements of the node. Second, NVLink with Unified Memory technology allows developers to write code much more seamlessly and still achieve high performance. via NVIDIA News
Unlike with Maxwell, Nvidia has laid major focus on compute and GPGPU acceleration with Pascal. The slew of new features and technologies that Nvidia will debut with Pascal emphasize this focus. Including the use of next generation stacked High Bandwidth Memory, high-speed NVLink GPU interconnect and the addition of mixed precision compute at double the rate of full precision compute to push perf/watt. We can’t wait to see Pascal in action later this year, but until then stay tuned for the latest.
|GPU Family||Vega||NVIDIA Pascal|
|Flagship GPU||Vega 10||GP102|
|GPU Process||14nm FinFET||16nm FinFET|
|GPU Transistors||Up To 18 Billion||12 Billion|
|Memory||Up to 32 GB HBM2||12GB GDDR5X|
|Bandwidth||1 TB/s||480 GB/s|
|Graphics Architecture||Polaris ( GCN 4.0 )||Pascal|
|Predecessor||Fiji (Fury Series)||GM200 (900 Series)|