GTC '14: NVIDIA Outs Pascal, Titan Z, Tegra Updates

NVIDIA NV Link, 3D Memory, Pascal GPU

NVIDIA's 2014 GTC (GPU Technology Conference) kicked off with a bang this morning in San Jose California, with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offering up a healthy dose of new information on next generation NVIDIA GPU technologies for the professional workstation, big data analytics, cloud computing, gaming and mobile markets.


As members of the press took their seats front and center, we were treated to a spectacle of sight and sound, NVIDIA-style and Jen-Hsun wasted no time diving in on the latest NVIDIA cutting-edge GPU technology advancements. 

First, we've pulled together sort of a highlight reel of NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's presentation and some of the more impactful overviews and tech demos.  Have a gander and then we'll dive into the specifics a bit more...

Two important NVIDIA technology innovations will be employed in NVIDIA's next-gen GPU technology, now know by its code named "Pascal."  First, there's a new serial interconnect known as NVLink for GPU-to-CPU and GPU-to-GPU communication.

Though details were sparse, apparently NVLink is a serial interconnect that employs differential signaling with embedded clock and it allows for unified memory architectures and eventually cache coherency.  It's similar to PCI Express in terms of command set and programming model but NVLink will offer a massive 5 - 12X boost in bandwidth up to 80GB/sec.

NVLink will allow for better, more efficient multi-GPU scaling and alleviate some of the intrinsic system bottlenecks that exist today with legacy memory and CPU interfaces.


Enter - NVIDIA's Pascal

The second important technology to power NVIDIA's forthcoming Pascal GPU is 3D stacked DRAM technology.  NVIDIA has shown this memory manufacturing technique in the past but this is the first real implementation we've seen fleshed out by NVIDIA. The technique employs through-silicon vias that allow the ability to stack DRAM die on top of each other and thus provide much more density in the same PCB footprint for the DRAM package.  If you look closely at the Pascal GPU module here, you can see that stacked DRAM (likely GDDR5 or next gen) on the side edges of the board.  There also appears to be memory embedded on the GPU substrate itself and in fact could be a more localized DRAM cache, similar to what Intel has done with Iris Pro Graphics but likely much higher density.

Pascal is an exciting product in that it should address a memory and IO connectivity bandwidth limitations that exist in current implementations that employ PCI Express and traditional DRAM components/interfaces.  With a 5X multiple increase in available bandwidth for memory and IO, what NVIDIA has built for Pascal should carry 3D graphics performance and capabilities well into the next generation of systems and applications that demand this kind of horsepower.  It should also enable new usage models for GPU computing and even more impressive visual effects for gamers, content creation professionals and consumers alike.  Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to wait until at least early 2016 before Pascal takes flight, though NVIDIA is prototyping the design currently.

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