When it comes to the best graphics cards, Nvidia’s varied selection of titanic GPUs is matched by none. From the wickedly powerful, 4K graphics-pumping GeForce GTX 1080 Ti to the entry-level GTX 1050 – and everything in between. Nvidia remains the crowned conqueror of the GPU world.
Because gamers are constantly demanding high fidelity entertainment, while tech companies and researchers alike require greater GPU computation and AI functionality, the best graphics card is never enough. This is likely why Nvidia is hard at work developing Nvidia Volta – the next generation architecture for creators and professionals alike.
There have actually been a couple of Nvidia Volta cards, from 2017. However, they were aimed at data scientists and professional artists, so they are prohibitively expensive – so don’t expect to see them in the best gaming PCs any time soon. Still, we’re pumped to see what Nvidia Volta has to offer even if it’s probably not the architecture behind the anticipated next-generation GeForce GTX cards.
Rather, the architecture seems to be built entirely around AI and research use-cases. And, if leaked information about a GTX 1180 is to be believed, Turing is the architecture that will be behind the GeForce GTX 11 series cards.
Eager for an upgrade? Here’s everything that we’ve heard so far.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Nvidia’s next-gen, 12nm GPU line
- When is it out? The Tesla V100 and Titan V are out now, but GeForce cards are TBD
- What will it cost? TBD
Nvidia Volta release date
As mentioned, Nvidia’s Volta architecture is already on the market, albeit not in any form that you’re likely to slide into your gaming PC. The Tesla V100 was first out the gate in May 2017, as a professional-level GPU built to empower artificial intelligence applications and help run data centers. It’s not a consumer-level device by any stretch of the imagination.
On the other hand, the Nvidia Titan V – released in December 2017 – is considered a consumer device, but you might scoff at the $2,999 (about £2149, AU$3800) price point. The Titan V is targeted towards researchers and other high-performance computing needs rather than making PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds look pretty.
But, what if you’re looking for a shiny new graphics card for your gaming rig? Honestly we’re not sure when we’ll see the GeForce GTX 1180, but the 1080 came out more than two years ago, so it’s going to be soon.
While Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang suggested last August that it’s still too costly to produce consumer-level graphics cards at reasonable prices, the fact that we’ve seen speculation that Nvidia has sent out press invites to Gamescom 2018 suggests that Nvidia has found a way. However, these cards will likely be powered by the Turing architecture – we don’t think we’ll see Volta-powered gaming GPUs anytime soon.
Nvidia Volta price
Without a roadmap for releases, we can’t say for sure what to expect from pricing for Volta-powered GeForce GTX graphics cards. The Titan V’s pumped-up pricing shouldn’t scare you, as the card was never intended for gamers. On the other hand, if Volta-powered GPUs were still too pricey to produce for graphics cards a few months ago, how long will it take until they hit a point where Nvidia deems them worth selling?
Until then, we can look back at the base price points for the current 10-series line, although you might find much higher prices due to the cryptocurrency boom.
- Nvidia Titan Xp – $1,200 (£1,099, AU$1,950)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti – $699 (£679, AU$1099)
- Nvidia TX 1070 Ti – $449 (£419, AU$759)
- Nvdia GTX 1080 – $599 (£600, AU$925)
- Nvidia GTX 1070 – $379 (£379, AU$699)
- Nvidia GTX 1060 – $199 (£279, AU$429)
We’ll have to wait and see whether Nvidia releases a similar range of Volta-based cards, as well as whether they’ll see any significant price increase from the 10-series starting points.
Given that the prices of Nvidia Pascal graphics cards came at a slightly higher premium – coinciding with the increased performance – over the Maxwell cards they replaced, we can imagine that these 11-series parts could be more expensive.
Nvidia Volta specs
Volta introduces a new 12-nanometer manufacturing process, which marks a significant step up from the 16nm process seen with the Pascal GPUs.
What exactly does that mean?
Well, it means that Nvidia’s manufacturing partner TSMC can jam a whole lot more transistors into a comparable amount of space, thus yielding a massive surge in computing ability. You’ll get better performance, not to mention significant power savings.
The Titan V packs in 21.1 billion transistors, which collectively provide a stunning 110 teraflops of computing power. New tensor cores are designed to speed up deep learning ability, with nine times more peak computing teraflops over the previous Titan Xp card. And it’s twice as energy-efficient too.
Additionally, the Titan V has six graphics processing clusters with 5,120 CUDA cores (up from 3,840 in the Titan Xp) and 320 texture units, and a base clock of 1200MHz that can boost up to 1455MHz. With 12GB HBM2 memory onboard, the Titan V boasts a memory bandwidth of 652.8GB/sec.
The last bit on the specs side is surprising from Nvidia, whom just the last year championed the enhanced speed of GDDR5X memory on its high-end GPUs.
The Nvidia Titan V is the first mainline card to feature high-bandwidth memory outside of the company’s Quadro and Tesla parts. Whether this means HBM2 will be a mainstay of Volta remains to be seen.
All told, it’s a potentially enormous upgrade over the last generation of Nvidia cards.
But let’s step back for a moment, because all we can do right now is compare a $2,999 graphics card to the $1,200 card that came before it—and neither of those figures gives us a whole lot of insight into what we’ll actually see from the cheaper GeForce cards that ultimately come our way.
Right now, it looks like the GeForce cards won’t be based on Volta at all, instead being based on the Turing architecture. However if Volta GeForce cards do eventually make it to market, they’ll likely be scaled down versions of the Nvidia Titan V at (much) lower prices.
Based on these initial pro-level renditions, Volta seems capable of so much more than the previous Pascal-powered GPUs – and even if those are powerful enough right now, Volta appears poised to take AI and professional workloads to previously unseen levels.
Either way, keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll update it as new details, leaks or cards pop up on our radar.