After revealing their next flagship Telsa earlier, Nvidia has let loose with a few more details and specifications. Based on the new Pascal architecture, the P100 will be utilizing TSMC’s latest 16nmFF+ process. As we know from the keynote, the chip will feature 15.3 billion transistors and the latest HBM2 memory. The P100 also features what Nvidia is calling the “5 miracles”.
First off, the P100 will run at an impressive 1328 MHz base clock and 1480 MHz boost. This is high for a professional Tesla card though well in line with GeForce clocks. The card won’t be using the full GP100 die with 60 SMs and 3840 CUDA cores, rather it will use a cut-down version with 56 SMs with 3584 cores. This mirrors Kepler’s launch where the cut-down Titan came before the Titan Black. In addition to the usual FP32 CUDA cores, there are also 1792 FP64 CUDA cores for Dual Precision Work. This gives a 2SP/1DP ratio, higher than anything from Kepler or Maxwell. The P100 also has 224 TMUs and massive amounts of cache and register files.
Next, we have the massive 610 mm² die on 16nmFF+. About 50% of that is FP32 CUDA cores, 25% is FP64 and rest on other parts. This means despite the massive die size, the P100 and GP100 derivatives won’t be great gamers, as games generally only use FP32 CUDA cores. There may be a GP100 variant though that swaps out the FP64 cores for FP32 ones. Even saddled with compute though, GP100 will still beat the Titan X by a good margin. TDP is a relatively tame 300W, as expected from the use of 16nm and 16GB of HBM2.
Finally, most marketing statements are hyperbole and the “5 miracles” are no exception. They are the Pascal Architecture, 16nm FinFET, CoWoS with HBM2, NVLink, and New AI Algorithms. Honestly, none of these are really that amazing on their own and have been expecting. Combining all of them in one go on such a massive chip though is pretty amazing though. While the P100 will be shipping soon, don’t expect many till Q1 2017.
With both the Pascal announcement and GeForce launch coming ins the next 2 months, more information is being leaked about the upcoming Nvidia cards. According to the latest rumour, the first GeForce Pascal card to launch, the GTX 1080, will not be as impressive as many had hoped. As expected from Nvidia, they are keeping with their tradition to launch first with the mainstream GP104 die first in order to maximise yields and profits.
Utilizing the GP104 based on the 16nmFF+ process from TSMC, the GTX 1080 may yet be the fastest Nvidia card yet on the market till the bigger GP100 GeForces launches later. Despite the boost in performance, it appears that Nvidia will be sticking to 8GB of plain old GDDR5X, and not using HBM2 as some have suggested. While GDDD5X does have some disadvantages, it is a decent upgrade over GDDR5 and allows for an earlier launch than using HBM2 as production for those chips are still ramping up.
Furthermore, the leak specifies the display outputs as DisplayPort x2, HDMI x1, DVI x1 and the use of only 1 PCIe 8 pin power connector. This limits power to 225W but with the new architecture and use of 16nmFF+, this may still allow the card to dance with the 980Ti. The launch date is reported as May 27th, just before Computex. Big Pascal GP100 is set to launch before that date though so stay tuned!
After the recent Taiwanese earthquake, many Nvidia and AMD watchers may have worried about their upcoming Pascal and Polaris GPUs. While TSMC did eventually reveal that there would be a hit to their chip production, especially 16nm, it seems like things should be fine. According to the latest reports, TSMC is planning to double their 16nm wafer production from 40,000 per month up to 80,000 per month.
While this number may still be slightly depressed due to the earthquake, it does mean TSMC is taking in more 16nm orders and is able to supply them. Nvidia is relying on TSMC to supply them with 16nmFF+ GPUs for use with Pascal which is set to launch later this year. A ramp up now would mean the a mid-2016 launch for the earliest Pascal chips, right in line with rumours. For AMD, TSMC will play a lesser role as Polaris may be using GlobalFoundries 14nmLPP exclusively.
One snag in the above analysis is that these maybe Apple A10 SoCs. Apple has been moving away from Samsung as their main chip supplier and Apple may be starting to ramp up iPhone SoC orders. Either way, the fact that 16nmFF+ is doing well means the earthquake likely won’t affect chip supply and prices.