31.08.18 | ISSUE 58
After a quiet few months over the long hot summer the wheels of industry are turning again with lots of new exciting products being announced. Highlights include the hotly anticipated next-gen GeForce cards, which are covered in an extensive preview in this month’s Scanzone, plus an in-depth review of the first 32-core desktop CPU. Read on to find out more.
1. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080
It’s been a long time coming but after several months of speculation, NVIDIA has finally announced the first of a new generation of GeForce graphics cards. The first two models are the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 .
This in itself surprised many pundits as most had assumed the new GPUs would have been called the 11-series, not 20-series. In addition, the new 20-series GPUs ditch the GTX prefix in favour of RTX, more on this later.
The new 20-series GPUs are based on a new architecture, codenamed Turing. This builds on the excellent legacy of the previous Pascal (10-series) and Volta (professional GPUs) architectures, with an improved rendering pipeline and masses of CUDA cores. The headline feature of Turing though is support for Real Time Ray Tracing, which comes curtesy of an all-new RT core, hence the new RTX prefix. Real time ray tracing is the holy grail of computer graphics, as it is a true simulation of how light interacts with objects, as opposed to rasterization, the traditional technique for rendering graphics in games. However, because ray tracing is so much more computationally intensive than rasterization, up until now it’s only been used in pre-rendered graphics such as films and TV.
Turing graphics cards however promise to be able to ray trace render parts of games in real time, which means better looking, more realistic lighting. NVIDIA has already confirmed that a good number of big name games coming soon will include support for Real Time Ray Tracing such as Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Turing GPUs will also be able to use their Tensor cores to speed up AA (anti-aliasing) calculations, letting you enjoy higher levels of post-processing without slowing down the CUDA cores. Known as DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), this also has a lot of support from game developers, with big hitters such as ARK, Hitman 2 and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds promising support.
As already mentioned the initial line up of Turing cards will comprise the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080. The flagship RTX 2080 Ti packs in 4352 CUDA cores and 11GB of memory while the RTX 2080 is equipped with 2944 cores and 8GB of memory. Both models use the latest GDDR6 memory, which offers higher speeds than GDDR5, without the high associated cost of HBM2 memory, which NVIDIA has sensibly left exclusive so its professional-grade Quadro and Tesla cards.
While it’s too early for us to share our own performance benchmark results with you, NVIDIA has released the following slides which give you an idea on the level of performance you can expect from the RTX 2080. For instance, this slide shows up to a 2x performance increase over the GTX 1080 in games when DLSS is enabled.
- GTX 1080
- RTX 2080
- RTX 2080 + DLSS
Data Measured at 4k resolution
The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 are both available to pre-order from our website, with prices starting from £1049 for the RTX 2080 Ti and £714 for an RTX 2080. There will also be an RTX 2070 later this autumn, armed with 2304 cores and 8GB of memory.
Alternatively, why not check out the latest 3XS Systems gaming PCs powered by the GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards, including two special edition watercooled PCs.
2. AMD 2nd gen Ryzen Threadripper CPUs
AMD has been making a big splash over the last year and a half, with its Ryzen, Threadripper and EPYC processors finding their way into all types of systems, from laptops to PCs to workstations and servers.
After the big improvements that came with its 2nd gen Ryzen processors earlier this year, it should come as no surprise that AMD was also going to refresh is Ryzen Threadripper processors as well. AMD has really upped the ante with its 2nd gen Ryzen Threadripper processors though, ramping up the number of cores to an unprecedented level.
For instance, the flagship model the 2990WX has a whopping 32 cores and 64 threads, double that of the 1st gen 1950X and more cores than many servers. There’s a lower spec model, the 2950X, though it still manages to pack in 16 cores and 32 threads.
While both CPUs are totally overkill for most desktop PCs, having so many cores on offer could provide a massive speed up for high-end visualisation type applications, such as 3D rendering and video post-production.
As already mentioned, under the heatspreader the 2990WX and 2950X are more than just Ryzen Threadrippers with a ton of cores. They’re actually based on the same Zen+ architecture as Ryzen 2000-series processors. This means they are built out of all sorts of goodness, such as teeny tiny 12 nanometre transistors, ultra-low latency cache and Precision Boost 2 which boosts the clock frequency of the CPU if you’re not using all the cores. Take a look at our earlier articles on 2nd gen Ryzen processors for more details of Zen+ if you’d like to learn more.
Like the 1st gen Ryzen Threadripper processors the new 2nd gen processor use the TR4 Socket, and will work in all existing X399 motherboards. One word of caution, the 2990WX is one power hungry beast and has TDP of 250W so needs very good cooling for the CPU itself and the motherboard.
|Architecture||Pinnacle Ridge||Pinnacle Ridge||Summit Ridge||Summit Ridge||Summit Ridge|
|Level 3 Cache||64MB||32MB||32MB||32MB||16MB|
|Memory Controller||Quad-channel DDR4||Quad-channel DDR4||Quad-channel DDR4||Quad-channel DDR4||Quad-channel DDR4|
|PCI-E 3.0 lanes||64||64||64||64||64|
We put the new Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX through its paces against the Core i9 7980XE, which is Intel’s flagship processor for high-end workstations. To make the comparison as fair as possible both systems used the same Corsair Hydrocooler, 64GB Corsair of RAM and NVIDIA Quadro P4000 graphics card.
The Cinebench benchmark is based on the popular modelling, animating and rendering application Cinema4D and measures how quickly the CPU can render a complex 3D scene. With more cores and threads than the Core i9 7980XE it should come as no surprise that the Threadripper 2990WX motors through this test, an incredible 53% faster than the Core i9.
POV-Ray is a popular ray tracing applications, and once again the Threadripper 2990WX proved the faster CPU, achieving a 46% faster score than the Core i9 7980XE.
The architectural improvements and die shrink in the 2nd gen Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX are very welcome indeed, but what truly makes this CPU to special its 32 cores and 64 threads.
As our benchmarks show, for tasks such as 3D rendering the 2990WX is unbeatable, leaving Intel’s similarly-priced Core i9 7980XE behind in its dust. Even if you overclock the Core i9 it still much slower than the 2990WX.
The 2990WX does have an Achilles heel though and that’s its gaming performance. Many games are confused by having so many cores, and as a result run really badly. For example, the frame rate in games such as GTA V and Total War: Warhammer II is less than third that of a Ryzen 7 2700X. This can be resolved by enabling Game Mode in the Windows application AMD Ryzen Master, which disables 24 cores, effectively turning the CPU into an 8-core processor. However, this requires a reboot to take effect so isn’t very user friendly.
With all that said, AMD’s new Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is a stunningly fast workstation CPU and deserves serious consideration.
Scan Computers sells the complete range of 2nd gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors and compatible motherboards plus 3XS Systems Pro Graphics workstations built around the new processors.
3. NVIDIA Quadro RTX
Staying on the theme of professional workstations NVIDIA has also announced the first of three next-gen Quadro graphics cards. Like the new GeForce cards, these are based on the Turing architecture and use the RTX prefix.
Unlike the new GeForce RTX cards, the new Quadro RTX cards won’t be available until later in the year, but we do know that they’re optimised for Ray Tracing and AI and have a significant boost in core count and memory size. For instance, the flagship Quadro RTX 8000 has 4608 CUDA cores, 576 Tensor cores plus a RT core and a staggering 48GB of memory. The next card down, the RTX 6000 has the same core count but has a more sensible 24GB. Finally the RTX 5000 has 3072 CUDA cores, 384 Tensor cores plus an RT core and 16GB of memory.
It’s way too early for any performance numbers or pricing, but based on the specs above we’re very excited about the prospect of the new Quadro RTX cards. As soon as more information is available, we’ll share it via Scanzone.
4. AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200
AMD has also been busy this month on the workstation front, announcing the new Radeon Pro WX 8200 graphics card. Based on the same Vega architecture as the other WX cards, the 8200 is armed with 3584 stream processors and 8GB of RAM, so will perform roughly midway between the existing WX 7100 and WX 9100, meaning its designed for visualisation type workloads such as animation, rendering and other complex 3D applications.