The slow arrival of the next Nvidia GPU architecture has been a wild ride, to say the least. With the names Volta, Ampere, and Turing all floating around the web and with nothing but unofficial rumors and the occasional vague report to go on, it was very difficult pinpointing which of these great names will ultimately denote the successor of Pascal.
Seeing as Volta is going to focus mainly on machine learning, it is safe to assume that we won’t see any Volta-based gaming-oriented GPUs. So, we’re left with NVIDIA Turing and NVIDIA Ampere.
Many felt that Turing GPUs would actually be optimized for cryptocurrency mining, as suggested by the name, while Ampere would be reserved for gaming GPUs. Quite the contrary, it seems that Turing will be gaming-oriented and that Ampere will actually succeed Volta in the HPC market. As such, there will be no dedicated mining architecture, but Nvidia might take steps to make specific models more profitable and/or better suited for mining than others.
Who Was Alan Turing?
Most people know the name but few know of the deeds behind it. Alan Mathison Turing was a renowned English scientist who contributed the most to computer science and cryptanalysis. Right now, the majority will know him from the AI test that also bears his name: the Turing test, designed to determine whether a machine possesses actual intelligence and is capable of true learning. He also laid the groundwork for the first commercial computer and played a vital role in deciphering German communications during World War II.
However, for all his accomplishments, it is the part about cryptanalysis and codebreaking that is the most interesting right now, as it serves as a hint towards what exactly the Turing architecture’s intended application will be.
Cryptocurrency Mining and GPU Shortages
If your beloved gaming machine’s graphics card had finally met its demise at any point during the previous year, then you have undoubtedly found yourself in a very bewildering situation: “What’s the deal with these prices?!”
Well, you will inevitably have heard of Bitcoin or any of its numerous siblings – Etherium, Ripple, LyteCoin, Monero… the list goes on for over a thousand different cryptocurrencies. Mining is what makes cryptocurrency exchanges possible: it is how transactions are recorded on the “blockchain” and how new “blocks” are created. You can find a simple guide to mining here.
GPUs just so happen to be the most efficient way to mine cryptocurrencies, so it is no wonder that the demand for powerful GPUs has risen along with the popularity of Bitcoin and the popularity of cryptocurrencies in general.
Not all GPUs were affected, however, as miners look for a specific combination of power consumption, price, and hash rate so as to ensure maximum profitability. As such, it is the prices of mid-range and upper mid-range GPUs that were hit the most, although none but the weakest GPUs were entirely unaffected.
Now, as mentioned in the introduction, neither of the two upcoming architectures will focus specifically on mining. The only way that Nvidia might balance the market would be to offer specific models which are better-optimized and more profitable for mining, as mentioned in the introduction. However, there have been rumors about the possibility of Nvidia somehow disabling mining on some cards, so that could be a potential solution as well if such a thing were indeed possible.
Nvidia Turing Release Date
There were no exact dates announced at either GDC 2018 or GTC 2018, but all sources indicate that the Turing cards will launch around July this year, based on the RAM manufacturing schedule of SK Hynix (more on that below).
Nvidia Turing Specifications
Seeing as we know very little about either Turing or Ampere at the moment, we can only speculate on the capabilities of the Turing microarchitecture.
Seeing as Volta boasts a 12nm architecture, it can be safely assumed that Nvidia won’t be making any more big jumps within such a short amount of time. The only thing we can know for certain when it comes to the architecture itself is that we can expect similar power efficiency.
On the memory front, we can expect to see either GDDR6 or HBM2, if not both. HBM2 is the better performing of the two technologies, but it is also highly expensive. More importantly, it was discovered at GTC 2018 that SK Hynix will begin producing GDDR6 memory en masse for the upcoming generation of GPUs in about three months’ time, leading us to believe that the majority – or perhaps all – of the Turing cards will incorporate GDDR6 memory.
Nvidia Turing Price
Based solely on what is reported by SK Hynix regarding the planned GDDR6 production, the memory itself will be about 20% more expensive to produce than GDDR5. This definitely means a higher MSRP from the previous generation, although it remains to be seen by how much.
Nvidia Turing Performance
Sometimes, a new generation of GPUs only slightly outperforms the old one. However, if Volta’s performance is any indication, then Turing GPUs will definitely out-perform Pascal both when it comes to computing and gaming. But once again, we’ll just have to wait and see some actual benchmark scores to be certain.
The Final Word
That would pretty much be everything that we know about Nvidia Turing GPUs at the moment. A lot of this is merely speculation on our part, but be sure to check back in a while, as we will keep this article updated as new info comes out.
Know something we don’t? Let us know in the comments!