The Nvidia Ampere graphics card architecture has been confirmed now. For so long we had no real proof the the next-gen GPU tech would bear the French physicist's surname, but with CEO Jen-Hsun Huang taking us through the key features of at least the server-based version, from his kitchen, we know it's real.
The sequel to the Volta and Turing GPUs should be the architecture to take real-time ray tracing further than we've yet seen and maybe even deliver it at 4K without turning your games into a slideshow. If all the rumours are true it could dominate the best graphics cards lists for the next 12 months at least. Mind you, if all the rumours are true then it's going to be a million times faster than Turing and cure death.
As expected the delayed GTC keynote only showed us what the Nvidia Ampere GPUs will be doing in the next generation of the green team's high-performance and professional server graphics cards. GTC has historically been a show aimed squarely at the pros, with Nvidia either hosting standalone events, or piggybacking gaming shows, for its GeForce line of consumer GPUs. So it wasn't a surprise that nothing GeForce-related was teased at the event itself.
During a pre-briefing, however, Jen-Hsun did explain that Ampere would definitely be the architecture to power both its server and gaming GPUs going forward "with a single platform that streamlines Nvidia's GPU lineup." He also added that "there's great overlap in the architecture, but not in configuration."
Nvidia Ampere release date
The first Ampere-powered devices have already gone out to researchers and cloud-service providers, but those are just pro/server parts and realistically the gaming cards won't see a launch until September at the earliest.
Nvidia Ampere specs
The GA100 GPU inside the first A100 cards is a bit of a monster. With 6,912 FP32 CUDA cores, 3,456 FP64 CUDA cores, arrayed across 108 Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs), it packs in 54 billion transistors The full GA100 chip has 8,192 FP32 CUDA cores and 128 SMs. It also uses TSMC's 7nm CoWoS 3D chip-stacking technology. It's a BIG chip.
Nvidia Ampere performance
The perf rumours have all surrounded the improved ray tracing performance, which is suggested to be four times that of Turing. The expectation being that Turing was a testing ground, a development kit, for ray traced graphics, and that Ampere will be able to offer the advanced visual features with little of the performance hit Turing suffers from. So far there's been nothing about the traditional rasterised performance of the Ampere architecture, however.
Nvidia Ampere price
The pricing of Nvidia's next-gen is going to be one of the most fascinating parts of the Ampere equation. With increased competition from AMD's RDNA cards and the potential Big Navi GPUs, there will be more pressure on the new GeForce cards to be priced aggressively. You can bag a DGX A100 for around $200K now though.