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Nvidia Pascal GP100 Flagship Spotted, On Track For 2016

Khalid Moammer
Posted Sep 22, 2015
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Nvidia’s upcoming GP100 flagship Pascal GPU and the inevitable successor to Nvidia’s GTX Titan X has been spotted in transit. Going from TSMC’s fabrication plants to Nvidia’s testing facilities in India. Pascal is the code name for Nvidia’s upcoming GPU architecture scheduled for a 2016 market introduction. The GP100 GPU is the largest and most powerful of Nvidia’s Pascal graphics chips.

Nvidia’s Big Pascal Spotted In Shipping Manifest Slated For Release Next Year

“Big Pascal” as we’d like to call it has been spotted in Zauba’s shipping data base going from Taiwan to Bangalore India. The data indicates that at least 9 engineering samples have been shipped so far, each one costs nearly 10 times as much as a GM200-310 GPU found in the GTX 980 Ti. So if you were wondering what 16FF+ yields look like right now, that should give you a rough idea.

Nvidia Pascal GP100
What we know so far about the GP100 chip.

  • Pascal microarchitecture.
  • 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 16FF+ manufacturing process from TSMC.
  • Allegedly has a total of 17 billion transistors, more than twice that of GM200.
  • Taped out in June 2015.
  • Will feature four HBM2 stacks, for a total of 16GB of VRAM for the consumer variant and 32GB for the professional variant.
  • Features a 4096bit memory interface.
  • Features NVLink and support for Mixed Precision FP16 compute tasks at twice the rate of FP32. 2016 release, estimated to be out during the Summer break.

We found out not too long ago that Nvidia’s flagship Pascal code named GP100 has actually taped out on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET manufacturing process back in June. Interestingly we’ve also learned that AMD has also taped out two FinFET chips in that same period of time. It’s absolutely not a coincidence that both companies completed their designs at exactly the same time. Both are aggressively pushing for a debut of their next generation FinFET based GPUs next year.

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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.

The technology is aimed at 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.

NVIDIA® NVLink™ is a high-bandwidth, energy-efficient interconnect that enables ultra-fast communication between the CPU and GPU, and between GPUs. The technology allows data sharing at rates 5 to 12 times faster than the traditional PCIe Gen3 interconnect, resulting in dramatic speed-ups in application performance and creating a new breed of high-density, flexible servers for accelerated computing.

With Pascal Nvidia is shifting its focus back to GPGPU compute in a very big way. This is underlined by the comprehensive set of new technologies, software and hardware features that Nvidia has built around the Pascal architecture. For the first time Nvidia is going to be using vertically stacked High Bandwidth Memory. It’s also introducing a brand new very high performance platform atomics GPU interconnect dubbed NVLink. Pascal will also have the ability to compute half precision workloads at double the rate of full precision. This new support for mixed precision compute is going to be crucial going forward in mobile workloads. Because it will deliver a new level of power efficiency for the mobile market that was otherwise not there before. We really cannot wait to see Pascal in action next year.

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