Here's What You Need To Know About The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080

Today's the day. Reviews of Nvidia's newest, greatest and most powerful graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1080, are about to hit the 'net. But there's also more to this card than its raw performance data. Here's what's going on under the hood of Nvidia's big, bold attempt at cornering 4K and VR gaming in 2016.

Here's All The Data You Want To See

This is the fastest graphics chip yet in terms of pure, unbridled Hertz. 1.61GHz is the GTX 1080's base clock and 1.73GHz is its turbo boost clock, while Nvidia is also talking about chip overclocks of past 2GHz, with a demonstration running at 2144MHz air-cooled at 67 degrees Celsius. The GTX 1080's Pascal GP104 GPU has 7.2 billion transistors, 20 streaming multiprocessors with 128 cores each, 2560 CUDA cores, and 64 ROPs and 160 texture units.

Nvidia is heavily talking up the potential of the GTX 1080's brand new GDDR5X 10Gbps memory, of which it has 8GB on board. The G5X memory, made exclusively by Micron, is the fastest non-HBM memory used on a graphics card, and Nvidia's own delta colour compression allows up to 8:1 memory compression in some instances, a doubling of the same potential from last generation's Maxwell cards like the GTX 980.

That memory compression, as well as the faster overall memory bandwidth, means games require massively less resources than the previous card — we're talking 1.4x memory bandwidth improvement versus last gen, and 1.2x memory compression improvement, for an overall improvement of 1.7x. Pascal is 11 per cent more efficient in Star Wars: Battlefront, for example, and 21 per cent more efficient in Battlefield 4.

What Makes The Founder's Edition A Founder's Edition?

The Founder's Edition is the board designed and built by Nvidia. Founder's Edition is essentially a new name for the 'reference' design, but at the same time it's not just the most basic offering possible. It uses premium materials, a metal backplate and vapor-chamber cooling with the tried-and-tested blower fan design. Partners will be using a custom design, and will have a stock $599 RRP suggested by Nvidia for their cards while the Founder's Edition is a slightly more expensive $699.

This is the first time that you — the regular gamer that just wants awesome gaming performance — will be able to buy the Founder's Edition (nee reference edition) version of Nvidia's top GeForce GTX graphics card through the extent of its lifespan. That's an important thing worth noting for anyone that's intending on initially buying one and seeing how it'll perform, and then potentially upgrading in the future to a two-card SLI setup.

Two cards, by the way, is the defacto standard for Nvidia's SLI setup in the future. While three- and four-card super-SLI setups will still be supported, it'll be through a roundabout way that requires extra driver support and won't be set up straight straight out of the box in Nvidia's GeForce Experience. Of course, if you're the kind of serious enthusiast that's setting up a quad-SLI rig, you'll probably be more than happy to go the extra mile to tweak your system for every game you play anyway.

Software Tweaks: Simultaneous Multi-Projection

Simultaneous Multi-Projection is Nvidia's term for a new display technology that massively improves the angle of projection for multi-monitor setups, including multiple flat monitors or individual or multiple cureved monitors. Single-pass stereo distorts the image projection of the shapes being rendered — and only the shapes being rendered, to preserve resources — and massively reduces the level of distortion seen within a VR headset.

It means huge improvements especially for VR. Where a non-SMP example render takes 4.2 megapixels for a stereoscopic frame on the Oculus Rift, a SMP render will take 2.8 megapixels, which means a 1.5x horsepower boost and 5 times the pixel throughput. Geometry throughput, too, is doubled as the information behind the stereoscopic frame's two images is rendered once rather than once per eye.

Even outside of VR, a technology like this can mean performance boosts within games — especially on lower-powered hardware. A developer in one of Nvidia's tech demos used SMP to render the centre of the flat, single-display frame within their game and the outer area of the display at a slightly lower (apparently "almost imperceptible") resolution, giving a performance benefit of around 40 per cent over standard.

Software Tweaks: 4K Streaming Standards

Pascal is also the first GPU family that supports both Microsoft and Netflix's recommended standards for 4K streaming content, including 10-bit 4K HDR video support. It's the first that supports HDR proper, too, allowing the 2x boost in visible colours and support for wider ranges of brightness and larger content ratios with a compatible display — currently only large-size LED-LCD and OLED displays from LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic.

The new chip support DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0b, with 4K at 60fps 10-bit and 12-bit HEVC (h.265) content decoding and 4K at 60fps 10-bit HEVC encoding for video recording or streaming, and BT.2020 colour gamut support means Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards are the cards to get if you're trying to build a 4K-capable, HDR-friendly home theatre PC. Nvidia's Shield media streamers, too, support HDR streaming from a GTX 1080-equipped PC.

The GTX 1080 is the first card from Nvidia with GPU Boost 3.0 support, which lets the card change its frequency per voltage point — unlike GPU Boost 2.0, which only worked to its maximum potential at the maximum GPU voltage, the new tech lets the driver or user set adjustable frequency at multiple points across the range. It's now possible for a user to run an overclock scanner program and get a bespoke maximum overclock for their individual GPU.

Software Tweaks: Nvidia Fast Sync

High FPS games, running at many hundreds of frames per second, have previously had two compromised choices: V-Sync on, which controls frame output and then produces no image tearing but high latency (sometimes 100 milliseconds), or V-Sync off with low latency but screen tearing.

Nvidia's new decoupled render and display model, new to Pascal chips like the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, but also older cards — expected to be "widely supported" — lets the card blast through as many frames as it can, and then picking the last rendered frame to put on the screen with no tearing.

That means no or barely increased latency levels, with no back-pressure from V-Sync, with massively high frame rates for older and lower-resolution competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This is basically the esports gamer's nirvana — low latency, and no tearing.

It's different to older, traditional OpenGL triple buffering in that it won't have any potential for the frame buffer to fill up and back-pressure because there's the potential for frames to be discarded — with triple buffering, every frame rendered will eventually show and this leads to overall latency.

The default Nvidia driver setting is for the application to specify its level of V-Sync support, but the new range of options — including adaptive V-Sync which enables V-Sync when the render rate is lower than the refresh rate and disables it above the refresh rate, and half frame rate adaptive V-Sync and Fast Sync — will give esports fanatics a chance to choose their own preference.

There's no effective impact on frame pacing, either — there won't be stutter or jitter — because pacing itself is done on the display side of the equation. The discarded frames, which aren't displayed despite being rendered in a Fast Sync situation, simply disappear. When the frame render is extremely fast, the impact on smoothness — terrible without V-Sync, perfect with it — is minimal.

We'll have a full review of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and a comparison to the previous card of choice within the 900-Series GTX line-up, the GTX 980Ti, shortly.

This post originally appeared on Gizmodo Australia


Comments

    Can we please get a separate post - or maybe someone can start a thread in here for it - for people to ask 'stupid questions?'

    Something like 'all the answers to those questions about GTX 1080 you are afraid to ask'.

    The DOOM Polygon stuff has the worst of the Master Race out in force at the moment but as someone who's just spent $ on new PC parts, I want to cut past that crap and get some info.

      My reaction to this was "Wow... those are some.... numbers?"

        Kotaku: The only other thing we have more than 7.2 billion of are comments by Men's Rights Activists.

    Now all I need to know is when I can order and when it'll come. :)

      This, im gonna build a new rig for it as we need 2 gaming pcs now. Possibly buy another or a 1070 to plonk in the older rig for the missus.

        Current rig:

        Gigabyte X58-Extreme motherboard, I7 980X Black (watercooled...), 24GB RAM, 240GB SSD (pair of 120GB in RAID 0), 1.5TB of spinny drives. GTX680.

        The CPU is still good and the motherboard has been epic. It was expensive but the fact that I'm seriously considering going another year with the CPU/Mobo/RAM I think justifies the cost - had the mobo since early 2008 which breaks all records for a gaming machine in my house. My plan is add a 1080, and do some testing with the 680 on PhysX duty, and without.

        Next purchase after 1080 is new monitor.

          As someone who has been out of the PC master race thing for a while, is it worth buying one of these things to replace my HD7970 3GB? I have an older i7 2700 that is water cooled and running at 4.5Ghz, 16GB of system memory, 180GB SSD for system files and 10TB of spiny drives.

          Or should I look at replacing the CPU as well?

            You'll see an enormous jump in terms of your GPU. Your CPU should still be okay as not many games are CPU limited. Mostly things like ARMA etc. Plus yours is already overclocked.

            Would you see a benefit in upgrading your CPU as well? Sure, probably. But do you have a spare extra $700-800 to upgrade the CPU, motherboard and RAM as well? And that's on top of the $1K for the 1080 itself.

            I'm in a similar-ish situation to you, but my CPU is a little newer but "only" an i5. I've got a 4670K but I'll just be upgrading my GPU to a 1080 and keeping the rest the same.

            My $0.02 anyway.

            Here's my usual go-to reference for graphics cards... http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gpu-hierarchy,4388.html

            Hasn't been updated for a while, but I think it's likely that the 1070 will be on the same row as the 980Ti/Titan X and the 1080 will be next to the Titan Z. Rule of thumb is it's not worth upgrading less than 3 "rungs" on the ladder. 7970 is at the same level as the GTX680. The other thing to consider is features, and a really grunty older card may be missing features even if the raw power is there.

            I'd say "it depends what you're playing". :) A 1070 will be a performance boost and probably a lot cooler (and probably quieter) than a 7970! :) I went from ATI 4870X2 times 2 in quadfire to a single GTX680 and that was a benchmark improvement (and a big power usage improvement...).

            CPU: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-hierarchy,4312.html

            Reckon your CPU is fine. 16GB is plenty of RAM too. I only have 24 because it was a triple-channel system and RAM was reeeeaaaally cheap when I was upgrading from I7-920 and 6GB... :)

            I need to do a rebuild though. Case is noisy. Need to change fans around and give it some love.

            Last edited 19/05/16 3:13 pm

            Assuming that's a i7 2700K if you've got it water cooled and overclocked. I wouldn't invest the $ in updating from this CPU, especially if your primary use is gaming. Moving from a 7970 to a 1080 will give you a pretty substantial performance boost, in particular if you are looking towards displays with a higher frame rate or larger resolutions

            Cheers for the replies, and yes it is a i7 2700K. I'll look at the 1080/1070 as a replacement in the next 3 months or so, and see if I can pick up an older nvidia card for physx work like CMDR is thinking up above.

              I'm not sure it's going to be worth going out and getting a card for physx but if you've got one lying around it might. Be interesting to see what difference it makes. Will let you know my findings... :D

          That's a serious build. Only thing to check is that your PSU is big enough to handle a 1080 with a 680 onboard for dedicated Physx.

            It's a Coolermaster 1000W one... It was plenty of grunt for the pair of 4870X2s, and a 1080 plus a 680 is about the same draw, I think. Provided it's performing OK still it should be fine.

      They're supposed to release on the 27th aren't they?

        \Yeah - PCgamer have had a review up for 2 days http://www.pcgamer.com/gtx-1080-review/

        Yep. Hopefully I can order then and get it soon...

    It's still not powerful enough to run my 4096 × 2160 (DCI 4K) monitor. Clearly I'm not going to be gaming for some years yet.

      It could but remember in all their they had it set to ULTRA with every possible setting maxed. I'd say if you just dropped to HIGH you would be fine as even on ultra it was floating around 40FPS for most games.

    Here's what you REALLY need to know: they're too damn expensive.

      errr no, they really aren't;
      launch date of May 27 and the price of $599
      the upcoming GTX 1070, slated to launch on June 10, should roughly match the Titan X performance with an MSRP of $380.
      source: PCGamer http://www.pcgamer.com/gtx-1080-review/

        To be fair, that's the US price.

        The 1080 is closer in price new to a 980Ti than it is to the 980 when it was released.

        The 1070 is pretty much the same as the 970 though.

        I'm still upgrading my 780Ti to a 1080 in any case, but the 1080 is a bit more expensive like for like.

          Yeah that is true @hotcakes - but tax time is round the corner and $1k for a massive improvement (for mine anyway) is an easy decision.

        $1000 AUD is way too much for most gamers to spend on a graphics card. Or at least it is for me. My $350ish GPU has lasted me about 5 years of PC gaming. It does need an upgrade now... maybe the 1070 will be reasonable.

    My old 7870 died a month ago so I bought a 970 - should have been keeping an eye on the news...

      Don't tell anyone but your 970 will keep you happy for a few more years. It's no slouch and if your expectations outmatch the real world performance you can always sell it and upgrade when the new GPU line has matured and the price comes down (tick-tock; only you're waiting for the tick).

    I'm gonna wait for Polaris, the founder's edition stuff is a rip off.

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