Nvidia’s Ge­force RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti are loaded with bound­ary-push­ing graph­ics tech

They boast hard­ware for real-time ray trac­ing and enough power to drive 4K G-sync HDR dis­plays. Those prices, though.

PCWorld (USA) - - News - BY BRAD CHACOS

The wait is over, friends. Af­ter a week of ram­pant ru­mors and out­right teas­ing by Nvidia it­self ( go.pc­world.com/nvts), CEO Jensen Huang proudly re­vealed the lon­gawaited Ge­force RTX 2080 and Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti, pow­ered by the com­pany’s rad­i­cal next-gen Tur­ing GPU ( go.pc­world.com/nxtr), at an event ahead of Gamescom in Cologne, Ger­many.

These graph­ics cards look like beasts, in­fused with ded­i­cated ten­sor and RT cores to ac­cel­er­ate real-time ray trac­ing, the Holy Grail of gam­ing graph­ics ( go.pc­world.com/hlgr), and enough visual fire­power to feed 4K G-sync HDR dis­plays, the Holy Grail of

gam­ing mon­i­tors ( go.pc­world.com/hlgm). They’re equipped with a cut­ting-edge Vir­tu­allink VR con­nec­tion, too, and a speed­ier SLI con­nec­tion called Nvlink.

The $999 Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edi­tion blows past the GTX 1080 Ti, and the

$699 Ge­force RTX 2080 far out­paces the pre­vi­ous-gen flag­ship in real-time ray-trac­ing op­er­a­tions. That makes them among the first con­sumer GPUS ca­pa­ble of keep­ing up with Nvidia’s beastly new $2,000 4K G-sync HDR mon­i­tors, the Acer Preda­tor X27 ( go.pc­world. com/bx27) and Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ ( go. pc­world.com/b27u), with­out beg­ging for mercy—al­beit at a hefty price. Pre­vi­ously, only the GTX 1080 Ti and swanky Ti­tan-class hard­ware could feed the rav­en­ous dis­plays. Nvidia also an­nounced a $499 Ge­force RTX 2070.

These bound­ary-push­ing graph­ics cards are built for the fu­ture of gam­ing, to­day—but with ex­pen­sive prices that’ll keep you sav­ing your pen­nies for a while, too. Let’s dig in!

GE­FORCE RTX 2080 TI AND RTX 2080 SPECS, PRICE, AND RE­LEASE DATE

Here’s a quick list of specs for the tl;dr crowd:

Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti:

CUDA cores: 4,352

Clock speed: 1350MHZ base, 1545MHZ boost, 1635MHZ boost (OC Founder’s Edi­tion)

Mem­ory ca­pac­ity: 11GB GDDR6 Mem­ory path: 352 bits

Mem­ory band­width: 616Gbps

Ports: Vir­tu­allink/usb-c, Dis­play­port 1.4, HDMI 2.0b

Power: 2 x 8-pin, 250W TDP stock, 265W TDP OC Founders Edi­tion

Re­lease date: Septem­ber 20, 2018

Price: $999 stock, $1,199 Founders Edi­tion

Ge­force RTX 2080:

CUDA cores: 2,944

Clock speed: 1515MHZ base, 1710MHZ boost, 1800MHZ OC Founders Edi­tion

Mem­ory ca­pac­ity: 8GB GDDR6

Mem­ory path: 256 bits

Mem­ory band­width: 448Gbps

Ports: Vir­tu­allink/usb-c, Dis­play­port 1.4, HDMI 2.0b

Power: One 6-pin, one 8-pin

Re­lease date: Septem­ber 20, 2018

Price: $699 stock, $799 OC Founders Edi­tion

By com­par­i­son, the older GTX 1080 Ti fea­tures 3,584 CUDA cores with up to a 1,600MHZ boost clock.

The Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti and

RTX 2080 are built on TSMC’S 12nm man­u­fac­tur­ing process, an op­ti­miza­tion of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion’s 16nm, and should see some per­for­mance ben­e­fits as a re­sult. That Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti looks like a per­for­mance mon­ster—and it should at that price!

It’s in­ter­est­ing that the Ge­force RTX 2080 bears sig­nif­i­cantly fewer CUDA cores than the GTX 1080 Ti, and only 400 or so more than the older GTX 1080. Even with the ben­e­fits of 12nm and a re­struc­tured stream­ing mul­ti­pro­ces­sor architecture, the RTX 2080 might not out­punch the GTX 1080 Ti by much in games us­ing the tra­di­tional ras­ter­i­za­tion ren­der­ing tech­nol­ogy alone.

That cov­ers, er, pretty much all games right now, though Nvidia said Bat­tle­field V, Metro Ex­o­dus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be among the first games to bake in sup­port for ray trac­ing. If ray trac­ing gets pop­u­lar, the ded­i­cated RT hard­ware in­side newer RTX 2080 cards would give them a big leg up over the GTX 1080 Ti’s per­for­mance.

Ei­ther way, the Bat­tle­field V ray-trac­ing trailer looks stun­ning ( go.pc­world.com/bvtr).

The last-gen GTX 1080 Ti also fea­tured 11GB of RAM, but of the older GDDR5X va­ri­ety, hit­ting a to­tal mem­ory band­width of 484Gbps. The fact that the RTX 2080 Ti hits 616Gbps with a sim­i­larly-sized mem­ory bus shows the speed ad­van­tage of GDDR6 RAM. These are the first con­sumer graph­ics cards equipped with it.

Nvidia de­signed a new cool­ing sys­tem to tame all the cores—the first dual fan, non­blower-style cooler in its his­tory, and one that Nvidia says is engi­neered for max­i­mum over­clocks. Fully cranked, CEO Jensen Huang says the card puts out one-fifth of the au­dio out­put of the GTX 1080. To that end, Nvidia is sell­ing its pre­mium Founders Edi­tion cards with over­clocks out of the box this time around, rather than stock speeds— another first.

The price surely grew, how­ever, and Nvidia’s own Founders Edi­tion cards sell for a higher pre­mium than ever as a re­sult. While the GTX 1080 cost $600 at launch, or $700

for a Founders Edi­tion ver­sion from Nvidia, the RTX 2080 Founders Edi­tion costs a stag­ger­ing $699, or $799 for a Founders Edi­tion. And the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edi­tion rock­ets past the $1,000 bar­rier all the way to $1,199, with prices for non-founders cards star­ing at $999. The GTX 1080 Ti cost $700 by com­par­i­son. Sweet holy moly. Both the Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti ( go.pc­world. com/28ti) and Ge­force RTX 2080 ( go. pc­world.com/rt28) are avail­able to pre­order on Nvidia’s web­site now, with an es­ti­mated ship date of Septem­ber 20.

Nvidia also re­vealed the Ge­force RTX 2070, though at $499 ref­er­ence price or $599 for a Founders Edi­tion ( go.pc­world. com/f599), it costs as much as a last-gen GTX 1080 de­spite hav­ing 256 fewer

CUDA cores. Nvidia’s CEO claims it should be faster than a GTX 1080 Ti, though that claim is tied to games run­ning ray-trac­ing op­er­a­tions—it’s likely not nearly as fast as the GTX 1080 Ti in tra­di­tional ras­ter­ized games. Here are the specs, though Nvidia hasn’t re­vealed a re­lease date: CUDA cores: 2,304

Clock speed: 1,410MHZ base, 1,620MHZ boost, 1,710MHZ OC Founders Edi­tion

Mem­ory ca­pac­ity: 8GB GDDR6

Mem­ory path: 256 bits

Mem­ory band­width: 448Gbps

Ports: Vir­tu­allink/usb-c, Dis­play­port 1.4, HDMI 2.0b

Power: One 8-pin, 175W stock, 185W OC Founders Edi­tion

Re­lease date: Un­known

Price: $499 stock, $599 Founders Edi­tion

Now let’s talk about what’s deep in­side these graph­ics cards.

MEET GE­FORCE RTX AND RT CORES

Be­neath the mere top-level specs lie more in­ter­est­ing changes. Nvidia tweaked the de­sign of the Tur­ing GPU’S un­der­ly­ing stream­ing mul­ti­pro­ces­sor architecture

com­pared to the Pas­cal GPUS in­side the GTX 10-series, working in changes that de­buted in the ma­chine learn­ing–cen­tric Volta GPUS. Here’s what Nvidia said when Tur­ing was re­vealed:

“Tur­ing-based GPUS fea­ture a new stream­ing mul­ti­pro­ces­sor (SM) architecture that adds an in­te­ger ex­e­cu­tion unit ex­e­cut­ing in par­al­lel with the float­ing point data­path, and a new uni­fied cache architecture with dou­ble the band­width of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. Com­bined with new graph­ics tech­nolo­gies such as vari­able rate shad­ing, the Tur­ing SM achieves un­prece­dented lev­els of per­for­mance per core.”

But the real se­cret sauce is what gives the Ge­force RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti their names. The gam­ing in­dus­try’s fi­nally push­ing to­ward the graph­ics Holy Grail, real-time ray trac­ing. These Tur­ing GPUS in­clude ded­i­cated RT cores, aug­mented by Ai-boost­ing ten­sor cores that can help iden­tify po­ten­tial er­rors or miss­ing in­for­ma­tion dur­ing the ray-trac­ing process. That lets the Ge­force RTX 2080 pair process ray trac­ing far, far faster than their pre­de­ces­sors could.

Nvidia claimed that a sin­gle Tur­ing GPU could ren­der the Star Wars demo at the top of this ar­ti­cle more than 8 times faster than a GTX 1080 Ti. That’s a sub­stan­tial and nec­es­sary im­prove­ment, con­sid­er­ing that ray-trac­ing demos Nvidia showed ear­lier this year ( go. pc­world.com/rtdm) re­quired mul­ti­ple high­end Ti­tan V cards to run, and not very smoothly at that.

So what’s the big deal with ray trac­ing? When Microsoft re­vealed the Directx Ray­trac­ing API ( go.pc­world.com/dxry) for Win­dows 10 this past spring, we delved into the dif­fer­ences be­tween real-time ray trac­ing and the ras­ter­i­za­tion tech­nique cur­rently used in games:

“Ray trac­ing mim­ics how light­ing works in the real world. Ob­jects are il­lu­mi­nated by 3D light sources, with rays bounc­ing around be­fore reach­ing your eyes (or the cam­era, in games). Light might be re­flected by other ob­jects, or look dif­fer­ent af­ter pass­ing through wa­ter, or be blocked by another ob­ject com­pletely and cre­ate a shadow. The ob­jects the rays bounce off even af­fect the fi­nal color you see, just like in real life. Ray trac­ing can de­liver very high­qual­ity images. Just look at the Avengers movies! But there’s a rea­son the tech­nique is largely lim­ited to Hol­ly­wood films alone: Ray trac­ing is very com­pu­ta­tion­ally ex­pen­sive…

Ras­ter­i­za­tion es­sen­tially con­verts a game’s 3D mod­els into pix­els on your 2D screen, then ap­plies the color in­for­ma­tion af­ter. Each of the pix­els are then col­ored in in­de­pen­dently, ap­ply­ing tex­tures and shad­ing with tech­niques like shadow map­ping and screen-space re­flec­tion. Ras­ter­i­za­tion is much faster than ray trac­ing—hence its use in real-time games. But ras­ter­i­za­tion has its draw­backs.”

The re­designed Tur­ing GPU lays the foun­da­tion for a fu­ture when gam­ing graph­ics look as glo­ri­ously life­like as movie CGI, and the ded­i­cated RT cores are a big part of it. Nvidia’s clearly throw­ing its chips be­hind real-time ray trac­ing—so much so that these new flag­ships ditch the long­time “GTX” brand­ing in fa­vor of “RTX.”

Don’t con­sider ray trac­ing alone a rea­son to up­grade to a fresh graph­ics card yet, though. Get­ting devel­op­ers to em­brace new graph­ics tech­nolo­gies can take time (just ask Directx 12). But again, Nvidia re­vealed that Metro Ex­o­dus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider will in­clude ray trac­ing, as well as Hit­man 2, As­seto Corsa, and many other games.

VIR­TU­ALLINK AND NVLINK: CUT­TING-EDGE CON­NEC­TIONS

The Ge­force RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti also blaze a path for sev­eral con­nec­tion tech­nolo­gies. First up: Vir­tu­allink ( go. pc­world.com/vrtl), a new USB-C al­ter­nate­mode stan­dard that con­tains all the video, au­dio, and data con­nec­tions nec­es­sary to power a vir­tual re­al­ity head­set. It’s backed by a con­sor­tium of PC heavy-hit­ters, in­clud­ing Ocu­lus, Valve, AMD, Microsoft, and of course, Nvidia.

”Vir­tu­allink is im­por­tant be­cause it helps to con­sol­i­date three con­nec­tions for a VR head­set into one,” says An­shel Sag, an an­a­lyst at Moor In­sights & Strat­egy. “You won’t need break-out boxes any­more. It sim­pli­fies the user ex­pe­ri­ence and also helps to stan­dard­ize ev­ery­one be­hind one con­nec­tor for all head­sets, and one con­nec­tor for all graph­ics cards. Al­though this does the­o­ret­i­cally in­crease the amount of power the GPU may con­sume since it will

de­liver power to the head­set through the Vir­tu­allink (USB Type-c) con­nec­tor.”

The new graph­ics cards also in­clude HDMI 2.0b and Dis­play­port 1.4, the lat­est ver­sions of the ubiq­ui­tous con­nec­tion tech­nolo­gies—and the ones you want pow­er­ing one of those face-melt­ing G-sync HDR mon­i­tors. Pre­vi­ous-gen GTX 10-series cards shipped Dis­play­port 1.4-”ready,” but those re­quired a firmware up­date to ac­ti­vate the ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Fi­nally, the Ge­force RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti bring Nvidia’s high-speed Nvlink in­ter­face to con­sumer graph­ics cards.

Nvlink ap­peared only in high­per­for­mance data cen­ter GPUS pre­vi­ously. It de­liv­ers far, far more band­width than stan­dard SLI, and its in­clu­sion is likely a ne­ces­sity at this point in Ge­force’s evo­lu­tion. Run­ning mul­ti­ple Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti cards in SLI will re­quire mov­ing a whole lot of in­for­ma­tion very quickly. Ex­pect SLI sup­port to re­main lim­ited to two graph­ics cards in games ( go. pc­world. com/2clm), though, even with the faster Nvlink con­nec­tion. The adapter costs $79.

GE­FORCE RTX 2080 AND RTX 2080 TI: WHY DOU­BLE THE FUN?

This is the first time that Nvidia has launched the “Ti” and non-“ti” ver­sions of xx80-series flag­ships si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of the xx80 Ti launched a full two or three quar­ters af­ter the non-ti xx80 card. That’s in­ter­est­ing for a few rea­sons. Last gen­er­a­tion, the lower-tier GTX 1070 man­aged to out­per­form the pre­vi­ous 980 Ti flag­ship. On paper, the RTX 2080 barely seems to sur­pass the GTX 1080 Ti this time around. Is the co­or­di­nated launch nec­es­sary to get the hulk­ing Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti out there ASAP to sat­isfy deep-pock­eted en­thu­si­asts with a need for speed? We’ll know more about the ac­tual ca­pa­bil­i­ties of these cards when we get our hands on re­view units.

It could also mean we’ll see a re­fresh of these cards far quicker than we did with the 2.5-year gap be­tween the GTX 10- and 20-series. Nvidia ri­val AMD is al­ready sam­pling 7nm Radeon Vega GPUS to cus­tomers in data cen­ter form, ahead of a launch later this year. We could very well see new con­sumer graph­ics cards built on AMD’S next-gen Navi GPU architecture at

7nm next year. Given how com­pet­i­tive Nvidia is, I doubt the com­pany would let AMD claim the process lead for long. Maybe we got the 12nm Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti early to clear the decks for a re­sponse to AMD some­time in 2019.

These are GPUS like you’ve never seen be­fore, and the $1,179 Ge­force RTX 2080 Ti looks out­right fe­ro­cious—the per­fect match for the new wave of drop-dead gor­geous G-sync HDR mon­i­tors that push 4K pan­els roar­ing past 60Hz all the way to 144Hz. Those prices though! You have to won­der if gamers will balk at pay­ing so much.

The Ge­force RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti launch on Septem­ber 20. Stay tuned for re­views of Nvidia’s new Ge­force RTX 2080 graph­ics cards and the $2000 Acer Preda­tor X27 G-sync HDR mon­i­tor ( go.pc­world.com/ x27b) soon. Hey, no­body ever said push­ing the bleed­ing-edge would be cheap.

Screen­shot from Bat­tle­field V ray­trac­ing trailer.

Nvidia also re­vealed the Ge­force RTX 2070.

Nvidia said that many games will in­clude ray trac­ing.

The new Nvlink bridge.

That tiny USB-C con­nec­tion on the far end is the Vir­tu­allink port.

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