Ever since news of GDDR6 popped up on the horizon it was clear that the technology was being readied to support a major GPU family launch. Micron has now formally announced that it’ll be supplying the GPU memory for Nvidia’s upcoming RTX family. The announcement is so stuffed with praise for Nvidia’s RTX family of GPUs, it actually makes it difficult to parse what the author is trying to say. The post opens, for example, with the following sentence.
Later this year and moving into 2019 will be when where the sensation of gaming and graphics will spread beyond the traditional gamers as the euphoria of what high end hardware capability extends to broader users and markets.
I am not certain I’ve ever experienced euphoria as a result of gaming, but maybe I’m not playing the right games. The author continues:
Imagine. You open up your favorite Battle Royale game you have been playing forever, except this time it is on the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics card. The action is faster, the characters are more real, the backgrounds now have depth so that 4K looks like your backyard—you are in fact, transported to another world. Gaming is no longer for players, but it is real for everyone and is now a sport. Yes, you have now stepped into the future. But little is known is the collaboration of experts to develop the capability that delivers this infinite power and gaming capability.
A few points, in no particular order:
There are few upgrades more fun than installing a new GPU and cranking up detail levels and resolutions that you’ve previously been unable to use. It’s awesome to see a game that previously chugged along at 30fps flying past at 2-4x that speed with higher levels of anti-aliasing and texture filtering. If you’ve been running on a six-year-old GPU, the RTX is going to be an enormous upgrade. No question.
Despite the acknowledged awesomeness of Point #1, 4K doesn’t look anything like my backyard. In fact, none of the games I play look anything like my backyard. I generally consider this a point in my backyard’s favor, given the less-than-pristine condition of many of the virtual worlds I visit. I also enjoy not being sniped while working in the garden. The new GeForce RTX is unlikely to change either of these facts.
“Gaming is no longer for players, but it is real for everyone and is now a sport. Yes, you have now stepped into the future,” are the kind of sentences I’d expect from a badly malfunctioning AI. If gaming is now a sport, aren’t people who play e-sports “players?” Is this some sort of shout-out to the Velveteen Rabbit and the Saw Horse’s timeless wisdom on what it means to be real? Questions abound. Also, for those of you playing along at home, we’re two paragraphs deep in a blog post published by Micron without a single mention of GDDR6 yet.
Luckily, Micron recalled its own product announcement by paragraph 3. The company notes that GDDR6 is shipping with up to 14Gbps performance today. Faster speeds are possible; in June Micron announced it had managed to overclock its GDDR6 up to 20Gbps with a voltage bump. Clearly, there’s some headroom for more bandwidth over the long run, which honestly isn’t all that surprising. The first GDDR5 GPUs, like the Radeon HD 4890, offered up to 125GB/s of bandwidth on a 256-bit bus. Today, GPUs like the RX 580 (which also uses standard GDDR5 and a 256-bit bus) have hit 256GB/s of bandwidth. It’s good to see Micron being able to push GDDR6 up to 20Gbps, but that’s honestly what we should expect to see given the expected longevity of the standard.
The aggressively pro-Nvidia sales pitch is still more than a little strange, however, and it’s not a function of the fact that Nvidia is the launch partner on GDDR6. Nvidia was also the only GPU company that used GDDR5X, and Micron the only company that built it, but none of the blog posts the company published over 2015 and 2016 take the same ridiculous tone or over-the-top presentation.
RTX GPUs are coming. They’re going to be faster than current cards, though they’re also arriving at higher prices in a break with recent years in which Nvidia has opted for either no price increases or smaller jumps. Whether you intend to buy one or not, your backyard will remain safe for the foreseeable future.