Nvidia GTX 1080 cost billions, new fastest GPU, ready for VR

Geforce Series 10 cards are here.. game on AMD.

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Its not every Saturday morning you get a big press conference, but this morning Nvidia had one hell of an announcement. In an era where people start to speculate about the future of PC, what Nvidia just announced will have people seriously reconsidering that position.

Nvidia has just announced the GTX 1080, the fastest graphics card they, or anyone has ever made, substantially faster than even the Titan X. What this does is reset the software / hardware battle. For a few years now, the processing power available in computers has meant almost any task we need is able to be done a PC that’s a number of years old. This video card, will certainly get a few people upgrading.

For the first time Nvidia seems to have a real platform and solution to the brutal processing challenges of Virtual Reality. Typically rendering a 3D world twice, one for each eye, dramatically increases the demand on the GPU, but Nvidia have created a new pipeline that eliminates the waste between rendered pixels and what you actually see. Today, the resolution of virtual reality is relatively low compared to standard gaming, but with the GTX 1080, that gap closes to be almost non-existent. This means quality settings can be on max, while keeping the framerate high enough to deliver the optimal experience. Nvidia says that while regular gaming can get away with 60fps, VR really needs closer to 90fps to ensuring absolutely smooth motion.

Perf

President and CEO of Nvidia, Jen-Hsun Huang announced the company had spend multiple billions of dollars in R&D dedicated thousands of people over the last few years to create the new 16NM platform known as ‘Pascal’.

Nvidia GTX 1080

The the GTX 1080 is the first card running on Pascal and features 8GB of DDR5X RAM running at a staggering 10Gbps. The GPU itself has a phenomenal 2560 CUDA Cores and runs up to 1.733Ghz stock. Jen-Hsun says there’s plenty of room for overclocking. During a demo on stage, they showed the GTX 1080 running at 2.1GHz on air cooling sitting at a very comfortable 67 degrees Celsius.

With such an impressive performance and feature boost on the GTX 1080, many started thinking about the purchase. At the end of the press conference, Nvidia released the pricing and availability. The Nvidia GTX 1080 will be released world-wide on May 7th. The card will cost US$599.. which for the level of performance you get, is quite honestly, impressive. By the time it lands in Australia, expect the price to be around the $1,000 mark, but given this is faster than 2x GTX 980 in SLI, gaming enthusiasts and professionals will actually spend less than previous generations. Of course if you’re a business, you can run the GTX 1080 in SLI configuration to get the most insane level of performance.

For those more budget conscious, Nvidia also announced a cheaper, yet still massively powerful, GTX 1070. This starts at US$379 so should land well below the GTX 1080, yet deliver a substantial amount of the benefits.

Nvidia also announced technology to help multi-monitor gamers create the experience we’ve always wanted. They did a clumsy job of explaining the solution, but the solution is an important one. Typically there’s a disconnect between the arrangement of our monitors and what the game understands our display configuration to be. What triple-display games do is render 3 display images out, that run parallel, in the same line, but we usually angle the screens around us to add to the immersion.

Simultaneous Multi-projection

While games have had some digital compensation to solve the difference in flat vs angled display images, however they still don’t achieve what Nvidia’s hardware solution does. Nvidia’s demo showed off the 3 images rendered accurately as to create the effect of looking out a window, so something like the gutter of a street, remains straight, rather than angled at the edges between displayed.

Nvidia Ansel

Also announced during this morning’s press conference was a new in-game camera engine developers can use to let gamers generate high res, or even 360 degree panoramas, turning their extensive work on visual quality, into works of art. This will be available in 7 games to start with, but Nvidia is hoping lots of game developers add it in. As a GearVR owner, I’m all for being able to share in-game experiences in VR. Imagine you climb to the peak of a mountain in Tomb Raider and you look out over a gorgeous mountainous scene, you’ll want to share that, but currently you have to take a screenshot, which really only captures a subset of the environment you’re in. 

If you’ve just got a brand new 4K monitor and are looking for a high resolution wallpaper, then consider Ansel, as they’re not joking about the capability to render out a high res image. The system will support images of a resolution up to 12,000 pixels wide. After recently reviewing Canon’s 750D, I noted that its max quality images are 6000 x 4000 images, so that gives you some perspective. 

The live demo featured a HTC Vive, but Nvidia also says these experiences will also be consumable using Google Cardboard. If game makers can watermark these high res images and VR exports, they’ll serve as great marketing for the game. 

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