In what has now become a bona fide tradition for NVIDIA, at their GDC event this evening the company announced their next flagship video card, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Something of a poorly kept secret – NVIDIA’s website accidentally spilled the beans last week – the GTX 1080 Ti is NVIDIA’s big Pascal refresh for the year, finally rolling out their most powerful consumer GPU, GP102, into a GeForce video card.

The Ti series of cards isn’t new for NVIDIA. The company has used the moniker for their higher-performance cards since the GTX 700 series back in 2013. However no two generations have really been alike. For the Pascal generation in particular, NVIDIA has taken the almighty Titan line in a more professional direction, so whereas a Ti card would be a value Titan in past generations – and this is still technically true here – it serves as more of a flagship for the Pascal generation GeForce.

At any rate, we knew that NVIDIA would release a GP102 card for the GeForce market sooner or later, and at long last it’s here. Based on a not-quite-fully-enabled GP102 GPU (more on this in a second), like its predecessors the GTX 1080 Ti is meant to serve as a mid-generation performance boost for the high-end video card market. In this case NVIDIA is aiming for what they’re calling their greatest performance jump yet for a Ti product – around 35% on average – which would translate into a sizable upgrade for GeForce GTX 980 Ti owners and others for whom GTX 1080 wasn’t the card they were looking for.

NVIDIA GPU Specification Comparison
  GTX 1080 Ti NVIDIA Titan X GTX 1080 GTX 980 Ti
CUDA Cores 3584 3584 2560 2816
Texture Units 224 224 160 176
ROPs 88 96 64 96
Core Clock ? 1417MHz 1607MHz 1000MHz
Boost Clock 1582MHz 1531MHz 1733MHz 1075MHz
Memory Clock 11Gbps GDDR5X 10Gbps GDDR5X 10Gbps GDDR5X 7Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 352-bit 384-bit 256-bit 384-bit
FP64 1/32 1/32 1/32 1/32
FP16 (Native) 1/64 1/64 1/64 N/A
INT8 4:1 4:1 N/A N/A
TDP 250W 250W 180W 250W
GPU GP102 GP102 GP104 GM200
Transistor Count 12B 12B 7.2B 8B
Die Size 471mm2 471mm2 314mm2 601mm2
Manufacturing Process TSMC 16nm TSMC 16nm TSMC 16nm TSMC 28nm
Launch Date 03/2017 08/02/2016 05/27/2016 06/01/2015
Launch Price $699 $1200 MSRP: $599
Founders $699

We’ll start as always with the GPU at the heart of the card, GP102. With NVIDIA’s business now supporting a dedicated compute GPU – the immense GP100 – GP102 doesn’t qualify for the “Big Pascal” moniker like past iterations have. But make no mistake, GP102 is quite a bit larger than the GP104 GPU at the heart of the GTX 1080, and that translates to a lot more hardware for pushing pixels.

GTX 1080 Ti ships with 28 of GP102’s 30 SMs enabled. For those of you familiar with the not-quite-consumer NVIDIA Titan X (Pascal), this is the same configuration as that card, and in fact there are a lot of similarities between those two cards. Though for this generation the situation is not going to be cut & dry as in the past; the GTX 1080 Ti is not strictly a subset of the Titan.

The big difference on the hardware front is that NVIDIA has stripped GP102 of some of its memory/ROP/L2 capacity, which was fully enabled on the Titan. Of the 96 ROPs we get 88; the last ROP block, its memory controller, and 256KB of L2 cache have been disabled.

However what the GTX 1080 Ti lacks in functional units it’s partially making up in clockspeeds, both in regards to the core and the memory. While the base clock has not yet been disclosed, the boost clock of the GTX 1080 Ti is 1582MHz, about 50MHz higher than its Titan counterpart. More significantly, the memory clock on the GTX 1080 Ti is 11Gbps, a 10% increase over the 10Gbps clock found on the Titan and the GTX 1080. Combined with the 352-bit memory bus, and we’re looking at 484GB/sec of memory bandwidth for the GTX 1080 Ti.

Taken altogether then, the GTX 1080 Ti offers just over 11.3 TFLOPS of FP32 performance. This puts the expected shader/texture performance of the card 28% ahead of the current GTX 1080, while the ROP throughput advantage stands 26%, and memory bandwidth at a much greater 51.2%. Real-world performance will of course be influenced by a blend of these factors, so I’ll be curious to see how much the major jump in memory bandwidth helps given that the ROPs aren’t seeing the same kind of throughput boost. Otherwise, relative to the NVIDIA Titan X, the two cards should end up quite close, trading blows now and then.

Speaking of the Titan, on an interesting side note, it doesn’t look like NVIDIA is going to be doing anything to hurt the compute performance of the GTX 1080 Ti to differentiate the card from the Titan, which has proven popular with GPU compute customers. Crucially, this means that the GTX 1080 Ti gets the same 4:1 INT8 performance ratio of the Titan, which is critical to the cards’ high neural networking inference performance. As a result the GTX 1080 Ti actually has slighty greater compute performance (on paper) than the Titan. And NVIDIA has been surprisingly candid in admitting that unless compute customers need the last 1GB of VRAM offered by the Titan, they’re likely going to buy the GTX 1080 Ti instead.

Speaking of memory, as I mentioned before the card will be shipping with 11 pieces of 11Gbps GDDR5X. The faster memory clock comes courtesy of a new generation of GDDR5X memory chips from partner Micron, who after a bit of a rocky start with GDDR5X development, is finally making progress on boosting memory speeds that definitely has NVIDIA pleased. Until now NVIDIA’s GPUs and boards have been ready for the higher frequency memory, and the memory is just now catching up.

Moving on, the card’s 250W TDP should not come as a surprise. This has been NVIDIA’s segment TDP of choice for Titan and Ti cards for a while now, and the GTX 1080 Ti isn’t deviating from that.

However the cooling system has seen a small but important overhaul: the DVI port is gone, opening up the card to be a full slot blower. In order to offer a DVI port along with a number of DisplayPorts/HDMI ports, NVIDIA has traditionally blocked part of the card’s second slot to house the DVI port. But with GTX 1080 Ti, that port is finally gone, and that gives the GTX 1080 Ti the interesting distinction being the first unobstructed high-end GeForce card since the GTX 580. The end result is that NVIDIA is promising a decent increase in cooling performance relative to the GTX 980 Ti and similar designs. We’ll have to see how NVIDIA has tuned the card to understand the full impact of this change, but this likely will further improve on NVIDIA’s already great acoustics.

Meanwhile the end result of removing the DVI port means that the GTX 1080 Ti’s display I/O has been pared down to just a mix of HDMI and DisplayPorts. Altogether we’re looking at 3x DisplayPort 1.4 ports and 1x HDMI 2.0 port. As a consolation to owners who may still be using DVI-based monitors, the company will be including a DisplayPort to DVI adapter with the card (presumably DP to SL-DVI and not DL-DVI), but it’s clear that DVI’s days are now numbered over at NVIDIA.

Moving on, for card designs NVIDIA is once again going to be working with partners to offer a mix of reference and custom designs. The GTX 1080 Ti will initially be offered in a Founder’s Edition design, while partners are also bringing up their own semi and fully custom designs to be released a bit later. Importantly however, unlike the GTX 1080 & GTX 1070, NVIDIA has done away with the Founder’s Edition premium for the GTX 1080 Ti. The MSRP of the card will be the MSRP for both the Founder’s Edition and partners’ custom cards. This makes pricing more consistent, though I’m curious to see how this plays out with partners, as they benefitted from the premium in the form of more attractive pricing for their own cards.

Finally, speaking of pricing, let’s talk about the launch date and availability. Just in time for Pi Day, NVIDIA will be launching the card on the week of March 5th (Update: an exact date has finally been revealed: Friday, March 10th). As for pricing, long-time price watchers may be surprised. NVIDIA will be releasing the card at $699, the old price of the GTX 1080 Founder's Edition (which itself just got a price cut). This does work out to a bit higher than the GTX 980 Ti - it launched at $649 two years ago - but it's more aggressive than I had been expecting given the GTX 1080's launch price last year.

In any case, at this time the high-end video card market is NVIDIA’s to command. AMD doesn’t offer anything competitive with the GTX 1070 and above, so the GTX 1080 Ti will stand alone at the top of the consumer video card market. Long-term here AMD isn’t hesitating to note their work on Vega, but that’s a bridge to be crossed only once those cards get here.



View All Comments

  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    The price is actually a lot cheaper than i was expecting. Also the back of it looks fantastic change.

    Just now have to see what base clock speed is and how it actually translates to real performance.
  • Meteor2 - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Looks like a far wiser response to forthcoming meaningful competition than Intel has managed. Well done Nvidia (this looks a very fine product) and well done AMD for forcing competition. Reply
  • lordken - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    well not so good for amd imo. If big part of buyers will be impatient and jump on Ti ship and amd wont have much sales later with vega, next year you may have 2080 for 999$

    I'm a bit disappointed about yesterday's capsaicin, Raja didn't even hint any specs of vega nor possible launch date, while they could reasonably suspect that NVidia is at least announcing Ti in the evening....
    They should at least lift nda for ryzen and give it head start or something, when next week Ti reviews will pop up ryzen will get less attention. Though maybe some reviewers will use ryzen cpu in benchmarks instead of usual intel, but that's hardly a satisfaction imo :)

    On the article, not sure I would chose "not-quite-fully-enabled " wording instead of "cut down" add slightly or a little bit if you like. Cause 1070 can be said also to be not-quite-fully-enabled (with not-so-big stretch) :)
    and one more thing, I would welcome some more summary/info regarding INT8, if it was always the norm for Ti to cripple it, and why NVidia didn't do it now. Could it be due to vega rumors? They wouldn't do it out of their hearts if they can milk more.
  • ToTTenTranz - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    I agree. Yesterday's lack of details on the Vega line may have been off-putting for people who are eager to purchase a new high-end graphics card.

    Talking about dev relations can only go so far, since there's no one stopping e.g. Bethesda and Epic from doing the exact same deals with nvidia.
  • Achaios - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Well, I for one cannot buy AMD cards even if I wanted to b/c I own the ACER PREDATOR X34 GSYNC monitor, so pretty much tied with NVIDIA.

    When it came to choosing between the Predator's GSYNC or FREESYNC I chose GSYNC not b/c I am a fanboi, but b/c I trust NVIDIA more to deliver cutting edge products in the future.

    I just can't bring myself to trust AMD and Lisa Su based on their track record. Just can't, doesn't feel right.
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Well by all means, make your purchasing decisions based on your "feelings", see how well that goes for you. @lordken, I disagree completely. Ryzen NDA lifts tomorrow, there is no point in talking about Vega when they want the attention squarely focused on Ryzen. In fact, it's brilliant on AMD's part, the 1080ti will get completely drowned out by Ryzen news. Once the hubbub over Ryzen dies down, THEN they can start with the Vega info and keep the tech world focused on AMD. Meanwhile the 1080ti will get lost in the shuffle with only the most hardcore Nvidia fans dropping their cash on the table. Reply
  • imronburgundy - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    How will the 1080Ti get downed out by Ryzen? If you're looking for a new graphics card and AMD doesn't release any information whatsoever on Vega, Ryzen CPU's aren't going to affect your decision. Unless, you're just willing to wait a long time to see if AMD's offering is even worth it. Reply
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Nvidia will get drowned out by all of the reviews about Ryzen, that's how. Today we are talking about the 1080ti, starting tomorrow and for at least a week or two, the only people who will even mention the 1080ti are the fanboys. So I think you are missing the point, it isn't about Ryzen vs 1080ti, it's about the culmination of a year+ of hype FINALLY getting to see daylight. Who in their right mind, in the tech world, are going to be talking about the 1080ti tomorrow? Fanboys and fanboys only. Reply
  • Demibolt - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Then I would assume no one will be talking about Ryzen yesterday. 1080Ti benchmarks are coming soon and launch is soon, those are note worthy events that will gather attention. Combine that with the Ryzen hype (that is deserved) and you have a powder-keg of excited consumers that are wanting to upgrade NOW. They aren't going to be hyped about Ryzen in a few months when Vega finally is released, but now we have 2 new products to get excited about that are available very soon. That is how market share is won, not by the people holding out. Reply
  • SpartanJet - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Completely false. Many of us on the 6/8 core Intel chips have very little incentive to upgrade. While there may or may not be a speed increase over these Intel chips, it certainly isnt worth replacing a motherboard/cpu. While I'm happy AMD finally looks competitive it offers me nothing with my 4.6Ghz 5930k while the 1080Ti will give me 35% improved performance over my 1080 which is a much smarter use of my money. Reply

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