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NVIDIA continues to conquer new heights of graphics performance. AMD still does not mature with the release of Radeon Vega for the segment of older solutions that could compete with last year’s «green» flagships, and now the new NVIDIA video adapters are in a hurry to empty the wallets of enthusiasts. The latest high-profile premieres were video accelerators GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and Titan Xp. The second is an exclusive product with a small circulation and an extremely high price. But the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will be the new flagship of mass production models, which significantly raises the performance bar. We will talk about it in this article.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is based on the GP102 GPU based on the Pascal architecture. This chip previously became the basis for the ultra-powerful Titan X (Pascal) solution, and the even faster Titan Xp has recently been released. The GP102 processor has six graphics clusters of five SM multiprocessors instead of four clusters for the GP104 (GeForce GTX 1080). The internal structure of clusters is absolutely identical; it is discussed in detail in a separate review of the Pascal architecture.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

In full configuration, the GP102 has 3840 CUDA stream processors and 240 texture units. The memory bandwidth is increased to 384 bits thanks to 12 memory controllers. The crystal is produced on the basis of a 16-nm process technology and has 12 billion transistors. Perhaps due to such a complex structure, the first GP102-based Titan X received an incomplete configuration with 3584 cores and 224 texture units. The new serial flagship GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has a similar configuration. The newcomer also has 88 ROP blocks with 2.8 MB of L2 cache (GP104 has only 2 MB). The flexible structure of the new memory system made it possible to achieve an unusual bus configuration with a total capacity of 352 bits, which is why the memory capacity of the video card is 11 GB. Thus, a certain advantage of the Titan X, which has 12 GB, remains. However, for an ordinary player, even 11 GB is enough for the most modern games. At the same time, the memory of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti operates at a record frequency of 11 GHz.

After the release of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, NVIDIA also introduced the full version of the GP102 in the face of the Titan Xp. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is identical to the Titan Xp in terms of frequency configuration. The base GPU value of 1480 MHz is ensured even in the most extreme operating conditions. GPU Boost technology increases the core frequency until the power and temperature limits are exceeded. The average Boost value is 1582 MHz, but the maximum is traditionally higher.

You can compare all current solutions based on GP102 with their predecessors using the table below.

Video adapter Titan Xp Titan X GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GeForce GTX 1080 GeForce GTX 980 Ti
Core GP102 GP102 GP102 GP104 GM200
Number of transistors, million pieces 12000 12000 12000 7200 8000
Process technology, nm 16 16 16 16 28
Core area, sq. mm 471 471 471 314 601
Number of stream processors 3840 3584 3584 2560 2816
Number of texture blocks 240 224 224 160 176
Number of render units 96 96 88 64 96
Core frequency, MHz 1480–1582 1417–1531 1480–1582 1607–1733 1000–1075
Memory bus, bit 384 384 352 256 386
Memory type GDDR5X GDDR5X GDDR5X GDDR5X GDDR5
Memory frequency, MHz 11008 10008 11008 10010 7010
Memory size, MB 12288 12288 11264 8192 6144
Supported version of DirectX 12.1 12.1 12.1 12.1 12
Interface PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0
Power, W 250 250 250 180 250

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti combines all the advantages of the Pascal architecture and supports technologies that are also relevant for the GeForce GTX 1080. Among them, high bandwidth efficiency due to advanced frame buffer data compression methods. Also, tile caching gives a certain advantage, when the image is divided into fragments (tiles), which allows you to optimize the processing of geometry and pixels for each tile. This method allows more efficient use of L2 cache resources, reducing the load on external memory.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

And all this is combined with a 352-bit bus and a record frequency of GDDR5X chips. With a physical bandwidth of 484 GB / s, the theoretical peak can reach 1.2 TB / s. However, the effectiveness of additional improvements is highly dependent on each specific application.

NVIDIA solutions are well-optimized for DirectX 11 environments, backed by years of support from engineers and programmers. Thanks to the availability of convenient tools, this API is still the main one for many game developers. DirectX 12 gives you more control over GPU resources, better use of CPU multi-threading capabilities, and more efficient combined operations, combining graphics and other computing, including thanks to Async Compute. NVIDIA Pascal generation solutions fully support all the features of the new API at the hardware level, including advanced asynchronous computing. But the introduction of DirectX 12 requires more investment on the part of developers, and the benefit from it is still small. Many games don’t get any performance benefit from DirectX 12 until several months after release after a series of updates. Examples of this are Rise of The Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the seasonal Hitman. And these are good examples, because sometimes DirectX 12 brings only a drop in fps and nothing more.

NVIDIA is trying to improve the situation by providing software support for their products and introducing new developer tools for debugging code. Microsoft recently introduced the PIX utility for debugging under DirectX 12, and NVIDIA offers nSight Visual Studio Edition 5.3 and NVIDIA Aftermat. These programs will help DirectX 12 developers find and fix bugs.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The situation with software support is also constantly improving. Along with the launch of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, a new driver has been released that seriously speeds up a number of games under DirectX 12. And the improvement of the drivers made it possible to achieve noticeable acceleration in the already mentioned Rise of The Tomb Raider, Hitman and other games.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The company is also expanding its GameWorks effects experience by adding support for the new DirectX 12. The initiative is based on a toolkit of off-the-shelf graphics technologies and effects that are easy to integrate and improve the visual performance of the game. NVIDIA GameWorks support is present in many modern games, some technologies are supported in the latest versions of Unreal Engine, Unity and Amazon Lumberyard.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The HBAO+ background shading technology has found wide application, which gives a better and more elaborate picture in relation to SSAO and other algorithms. Volumetric Lighting simulation technology proved to be excellent. This is exactly the lighting you saw in Fallout 4, and HBAO + support and Flex-based shard physics effects are already integrated into this game.

Another example of GameWorks is the HairWorks technology, which allows you to simulate complex hair and fur. The technology was actively used in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Now HairWorks works under DirectX 12, and soon we may see new games with similar effects.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Among the new effects, Turf Effects should be highlighted for simulating complex grass with separate geometry of blades of grass.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The technology is used in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The game itself shows great visuals and supports many other NVIDIA technologies. Learn more about the technological capabilities of Ghost Recon: Wildlands with a demonstration of GameWorks effects in a special video:

Simulating various dynamic environments is a complex task that can be solved by different GameWorks tools. Real-time dynamically changing water can be implemented based on WaveWorks, Flex technology allows you to simulate the behavior of friable solids, Flow simulates flows and gases, Blast can be used for destructible objects, NvCloth will allow you to implement realistic fabrics.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Most techniques work under DirectX 12, including the promising Flex and Flow. As an example of the implementation of Flow, here is a short technical video demonstrating the new technology.

Optimization for the new API includes support for asynchronous calculations, which allows the GPU to more efficiently calculate such effects and get real acceleration on new video cards. And according to NVIDIA experts, Async Compute support provides a twofold acceleration of Flex effects rendering on the same GeForce GTX 1080.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The new GameWorks support DirectCompute and work on any graphics device. So you can play with the new effects on AMD graphics cards as well. However, at the present moment, almost all effects work on Radeon.

Neural networks in artificial intelligence systems have become a new area of ​​application for GPUs. In particular, NVIDIA is actively working in the field of artificial intelligence devices for unmanned vehicles. But there is a certain practical benefit for ordinary PC users. Based on self-learning neural networks, face recognition technologies and advanced image scaling methods are implemented.

The GeForce Experience software package is overgrown with new features, which allows you to automatically optimize game settings for your video card, update drivers and use additional features.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Part of these features is video capture with ShadowPlay. The built-in video block in the GPU is engaged in encoding, there is practically no performance drop in the game, the output video quality is very high, 4K resolution is supported. And the new ShadowPlay Highlights extension makes capturing highlights easier. The program automatically monitors the player’s activity and records the most intense game episodes.

Incredible opportunities gives players Ansel. The application allows you to take screenshots from unusual angles thanks to a free camera, apply color filters, create panoramic pictures and increase the resolution of the final image.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Players liked Ansel’s features. It is noted that users have already made more than 200 thousand screenshots in The Witcher 3 using Ansel.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

In addition to this game, Ansel is supported in War Thunder, Wathc Dogs 2, Dishonored 2, Mass Effect: Andromeda and many other games. The SDK is available in the public domain, so any developer can integrate Ansel into their project.

Virtual reality VR is one of the rapidly developing areas. VR systems have found application not only in the entertainment industry, but also in specialized tasks. In an article on Pascal technologies, we wrote that special image projection techniques save GPU resources and speed up VR processing. NVIDIA VRWorks technologies provide VR rendering acceleration from 20% to 60% and more.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The combination of maximum performance and technology support makes the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti the best choice for those who want to touch the world of virtual reality.

After looking at common architectural features and technological innovations, it’s time to take a look at the reference design video card.

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