When are we going to see the Nvidia GTX 1180? That’s the big question right now, but the new GeForce GPUs are in the works, bringing us the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards.
Nvidia is the only GPU crew to drop brand new gaming-focused graphics cards on us this year, with the GTX 1180 and GTX 1170 likely to be the vanguard of a new generation of GeForce GPUs. Or maybe they'll be named the GTX 2080 and GTX 2070 in favour of a more bombastic marketing opportunity... right now we still don't know. But there are things we do know about Nvidia’s next-gen cards.
You’ll need a quality display to go with a new graphics card, so check out our pick of the best gaming monitors around.
Nvidia hasn’t yet announced the naming, let alone the actual GPU architecture, behind its next generation of gaming cards, but we’ve still got a pretty good idea of the technology that’s going to be powering them and now we're pretty confident they're going to be announced before August 20.
Nvidia GTX 1180 release date
All the evidence is currently pointing towards a Q3 release for the new Nvidia graphics cards. Nvidia is presenting its 'next generation mainstream GPU' at the Hot Chips symposium on August 20, so they will either launch, or at least be announced, before that date. Some are suggesting AIBs are already briefing their engineers on the new GeForce GPUs, which would make a September launch likely.
Nvidia GTX 1180 specs
While we don’t know the specifics of the GPU architecture Nvidia will use in its gaming-focused cards, we’re still betting on a Volta GPU, a GV104 chip. That will make it a 12nm design, but with GDDR6 as opposed to the HBM2 Nvidia has used in the Tesla V100. Fresh rumours suggest the GTX 1180 will include a new video output too, potentially HDMI 2.1 with up to 48Gbps bandwidth.
Nvidia GTX 1180 price
The new top-end GeForce is likely to command the same price tag as the GTX 1080 Ti before it. That would make it at least $699.
Nvidia GTX 1180 performance
The purpose of the newest GTX graphics cards is to give some credence to the claims of real-time raytracing being the future of gaming, and so they’re going to have to deliver on that front. At that price they’ll have to best the GTX 1080 Ti in normal games too.
There's been a lot of talk about the possibility of a new Nvidia Turing architecture being the basis of the new GeForce cards, but we’re still expecting the green team to stick with its usual modus operandi and launch either the GTX 2080 or GTX 1180 cards using the same underlying Nvidia Volta architecture it has been working on for the last few years.
With Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference passing without mention of a new architecture, and not even a new GPU roadmap unveiling, it seems increasingly unlikely that it would announce and launch a whole new graphics architecture with a fresh GeForce GTX card in the next six months. If Turing is a thing then it could well just be the codename given to the gaming versions of Nvidia's Volta.
Here’s hoping the miners and speculators don’t swallow them all up when they do launch and we actually get to see some new graphics cards on the shelves come the end of the year.
As expected Computex passed without any hint of a release date for the GTX 1180 graphics cards, and even after speaking with the main Nvidia AIBs we're still hearing release dates from them of between August and October.
That seems to marry well with the recent rumour that board partners are starting to brief their engineers on the specifics of the new GPUs. With that going down right now it seems prudent to expect final product from the AIBs in the August / September window.
But at last we do have something concrete about the next generation of Nvidia's GeForce graphics cards, something that's not just some unsubstantiated rumour half heard in a Santa Clara restroom. Nvidia will be presenting at the Hot Chips symposium on August 20, so it's a pretty strong bet it will be at least announcing the cards before then.
We've heard from Nvidia that Gamescom is going to be a big deal for the company this year, and that kicks off the day after Stuart Oberman's Hot Chips presentation about "Nvidia's Next Generation Mainstream GPU.'
This is guaranteed not to be the first time the new graphics cards get spoken about - Nvidia wouldn't do a full graphics card launch at the Hot Chips event - so it's pretty nailed on they'll be at least introduced, potentially even released, before then.
We think there's a strong chance there'll be a GeForce event prior to the August 20 presentation, giving Jen-Hsun Huang a chance to strut around on stage with a new gaming card, maybe even in a new leather jacket, with the actual GPUs launching into retail around Gamescom.
The effusive Nvidia CEO did announce at a pre-Computex event that the next-gen GeForce cards wouldn't launch until “a long time from now." But then he's going to say that. With Pascal-based stock still sitting in the channel any mention of an imminent GTX 1180, or the like, getting released will kill any sales of those cards. So, even if the launch were to be in July he'd still be calling that a long time off.
Tom's Hardware has posited a July release date for the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards, citing anonymous "industry sources" alleging a Turing-based chip would by power the new GeForce graphics cards before the summer's out.
Expreview, though, posted a counter-story to Tom's Hardware's July release rumour, suggesting that AIBs have not yet received a new card notification, which normally happens at least two months ahead of a new graphics card launch. That would mean it's either not happening in July, or Nvidia is keeping the initial launch of its next-gen cards in-house and selling them exclusively through its own store, cutting out the AIBs.
Tom's sources had gotten quite specific in suggesting that vendors such as MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus would be getting the GPU and memory around June 15 ahead of the cards' July launch date. It seems a little odd that these sources are so specific about when the component parts of the new cards would arrive and yet still couldn't give a hard and fast answer as to what nomenclature Nvidia would be using.
Previous rumours had pegged this Q3 release date because SK Hynix is seriously cranking up volume production of GDDR6, and have recently signed a large supply deal with Nvidia. But SK Hynix is not the only company making GDDR6 memory, with Samsung and Micron both getting involved in the new graphics memory technology.
If it sticks with tradition, and uses the existing Nvidia Volta GPU technology, then the GTX 1180 will arrive sporting a GV104 GPU, but just what sort of configuration that chip might have is still up for debate.
The Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) of the current Volta chip is chock full of silicon designed for machine learning and inference, and how much of that will make the transition over to the gaming GPU we don’t yet know.
With the Pascal generation, Nvidia stripped out the double precision cores for the GP104 silicon, and it may do the same with Volta. Historically it would then push the SMs together - with the GP100, for example, there were 10 SMs in a general processing cluster (GPC) and then just five in a GP104 GPC, despite having the same number of CUDA cores in each cluster. Each SM then has double the cores sharing the same instruction cache and shared memory.
I’m not sure that will work out the same for a gaming Volta SM, as there is still some silicon inside the current Volta design which will come in useful in games which take advantage of the new DirectX Raytracing from Microsoft and the Volta-specific RTX tech from Nvidia themselves. That’s not likely to be stripped out, so the final gaming SM structure might be very similar to the current GV100 design.
That ray-tracing tech is not just limited to the new Tensor cores, but that new silicon definitely helps in cleaning up a raytraced image. And means, despite what we initially expected, gaming Volta cards could still come with Tensor cores in the package. With WinML also looking to bring machine learning into the gaming space we’re likely to see more pro-level silicon remaining in our gaming GPUs in the future.
But we think it’s probably quite likely Nvidia will stick with the same overall GPC structure, and switch to four GPCs for a potential GV104 design. That would give the GTX 1180 a total of 3,584 CUDA cores and 224 texture units, which would give a nice symmetry with the GTX 1080 Ti it would likely replace.
On the memory side it looks almost certain a GTX 1180 would come with GDDR6 support rather than the more expensive, and largely unnecessary for gaming, HBM2. Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron are all going to town on the new graphics memory, and both Samsung and SK Hynix have specifically mentioned the tech playing a key role in this year’s next-gen graphics card releases. And it doesn’t look like AMD will be doing anything so that just leaves a single player in the game…
Given the amount of work the GPU is going to have to do, and the amount of data needed to be shunted around, with real-time raytracing it wouldn’t be surprising to see 12GB of GDDR6 being used on the top-end Volta gaming cards. Though that's going to be expensive and still dependent on the vagaries of memory supply.
There have been fresh rumours, from a writer on Tom's Hardware with friends in technical places, that the new cards will feature a new video output. The speculation is that means the GTX 1180 will natively run HDMI 2.1 out of the box, hopefully delivering the bandwidth required to deal with 4K HDR at 120Hz without messing with the colours too much. It could also introduce Game Mode VRR (variable refresh rate) that might even give us non-hardware based G-Sync.
You'll probably need some new cables, however, as the bandwidth for HDMI 2.1 is going up from 18Gbps with HDMI 2.0 up to a heady 48Gbps.
There is also some speculation that the new GPUs will include some new form of a boost clock. Quite what that will include we don't really know, with Fermi Nvidia messed around with the shader clock so it's possible it could be something around that again. Pascal chips already top the 2GHz mark, so it would be interesting to see whether the 12nm GPUs can go even further.
Graphics cards are expensive beasts and most especially in these troubled, frontier-like, crypto-goldrush times of ours, even with the recent price drops. And, when you factor in the new GDDR6 memory technology costing some 20% more than its GDDR5 forebear, then it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the top-end GTX 1180 coming in at around $699 at launch. Or potentially even more.
It seems Nvidia has dropped the ridiculous Founders Edition schtick, so that would be the base, reference model price tag. Expect any and all overclocked, or third-party cooled, versions of the GTX 1180 to come nearer $800 - $1,000.
The GTX 1170 would likely then start at the same price as the GTX 1080 started out at. Yeah, ouch. The GTX 1160 won’t come soon enough with those launch prices...
Without any actual competition at the high-end of the graphics market Nvidia knows it can almost price with impunity, knowing people will pay because there is no other performance alternative.
A lack of competition is definitely not going to do us consumers any favours at all.
The new 20-series graphics cards are going to have to be capable of real-time raytracing. That’s going to be one of the first tests anyone does when they get their hands on both the new cards and Futuremark’s upcoming 3DMark raytracing benchmark.
Obviously it will also need to game like a frickin’ hero, and, given that it will potentially appear at the same initial price-point as the GTX 1080 Ti, it has to outperform the fastest of the last generation GeForce graphics cards in traditional gaming workloads too. And that’s no mean feat.