NVIDIA’S TI­TANS

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Nvidia’s new Ti­tan X is the fastest gam­ing card the world has ever seen. But it’s also the most ex­pen­sive. So, what are these Ti­tan boards about, and can the crazy prices pos­si­bly make sense?

Nvidia rolled out the first Ti­tan in early 2013. This was the fastest graph­ics card a lot of money could buy. At $1,000, it was dou­ble the price of a GeForce GTX 680. How­ever, the chip at the heart of the first Ti­tan was GK110, a mon­ster mea­sur­ing 550mm2, and it did more than just graph­ics. It was packed with fea­tures for gen­eral-pur­pose par­al­lel com­put­ing, and formed the ba­sis of Nvidia’s high-per­for­mance Tesla com­pute boards. The fol­low-up Ti­tan Black was just a fully en­abled ver­sion of GK110, with all the CUDA cores switched on. How­ever, Nvidia’s ap­proach shifted with the orig­i­nal Ti­tan X last year. That used a new GM200 GPU from the Maxwell fam­ily, and ditched the fancy FP64 com­pute ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The lat­est Ti­tan X is more of the same, only based on Nvidia’s new 16nm Pas­cal ar­chi­tec­ture and a chip co­de­named GP102. It’s pure graph­ics, not an FP64 com­pute ma­chine, even if Nvidia says it will be good at neu­ral net­work com­put­ing, and won’t be used for Nvidia’s Tesla com­pute cards, which get their own P100 chip. It’s also $1,200,

which sets a new high. Where the con­tra­dic­tions come in is that the new Ti­tans are more graph­ics-fo­cussed, so bet­ter value for gamers. On the other hand, the orig­i­nal Ti­tan’s ex­otic com­pute ca­pa­bil­i­ties went some way to jus­ti­fy­ing the price, even though you were never go­ing to use them.

With the lat­est Ti­tan X, you’re get­ting roughly 30 per­cent more per­for­mance for dou­ble the money of the GTX 1080, it­self very ex­pen­sive. That seems like a bum deal. Es­pe­cially when you con­sider, based on our ex­pe­ri­ence of the GTX 1080, that it might not quite even be the sin­gle-GPU 4K gam­ing so­lu­tion the world has been wait­ing for.

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