The first official confirmation from Nvidia about the GTX 1080 Ti's existence seems to have appeared via an odd source - LinkedIn. A job listing for a marketing position relating to Club GeForce talks about pre-orders for the new card.
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The GTX 1080 Ti mention comes at the end of the job-listing and suggests GeForce Experience folk running a GTX 980 Ti should get preferential treatment when it comes to gaining early access to the pre-orders for the Titan X-a-like GTX 1080 Ti.
The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is going to be the final piece of Nvidia's Pascal puzzle, the last graphics card of this generation before the green team unveils their new Volta architecture. And we’re pretty confident it’s going to be a welcome new year present for PC gamers.
Nvidia’s policy of not commenting on unreleased products means we’ve no official guarantee there’s actually going to be a GTX 1080 Ti, but I’d be more surprised for it not to appear than for Nvidia to release a line of green-tinged male grooming products. They’ve released a ‘Ti’ version of their top consumer card, based on a variant of that generation’s Titan GPU, for their last two graphics architectures.
Because the GTX 1080 Ti is likely to sit between the GTX 1080 and the Pascal-powered GTX Titan X we also have a pretty good idea of what sort of card it’s going to be. Hint: frickin’ fast.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti release date
“Happy New Year! Here’s the brand new GTX 1080 Ti.” Those were the words we were hoping to hear when Nvidia's CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang took centre stage to open the Consumer Electronics Show in January. But no, the GTX 1080 Ti was notable by its absence from the year's inaugural keynote.
As it turned out Jen-Hsun just spent his CES keynote time talking about how computer-driven cars aren’t going to mow down cats thanks to Nvidia and launching another Shield TV box1, what a wasted opportunity...
But fresh rumours have the GTX 1080 Ti launching in March at the PAX East event in Boston on the 10th. Though precedent would suggest Nvidia would be more inclined to make the big reveal closer to home, and that would potentially suggest an unveiling at GDC in San Francisco, just down the road from their Santa Clara HQ.
The Game Developer Conference is running from February 27 to March 3 and Nvidia have previously launched important new graphics cards at side-events to GDC - the GTX 680 was unveiled alongside the 2012 show.
And if the rumours of the next-generation of Nvidia GPU, code-named Volta, being unveiled at next year’s Nvidia Graphics Technology Conference (GTC) are true then the launch window for the GTX 1080 Ti is getting a little tight. With the AMD-shaped competition likely to have early Vega graphics chips on show at the Las Vegas event in January, it would make sense for Nvidia to get their top-end consumer part launched to really spoil the red team’s first genuine 4K graphics cards.
It looks like Nvidia are holding off announcing the GTX 1080 Ti until they've seen where AMD are going to position the top-end Vega GPU. Then we'll likely see the cut-down Titan X card appear to make things interesting.
But if you're after a new GPU today check out our guide to the best graphics cards around right now.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti price
The bad news is the GTX 1080 Ti is not going to be a particularly affordable graphics card for most of us. It’s going to sit somewhere in between the GTX 1080 and Titan X both in terms of performance and in pricing, and that means a price tag of somewhere between $630 (£565) and $1,200 (£1,099). With our guess leaning more towards the higher end of that scale.
If the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti ends up costing less than $800 (£800) I would be very surprised indeed...especially if Nvidia persists with their Founders Edition malarkey.
That will make it the most expensive single-GPU consumer graphics card Nvidia have ever produced. Which shouldn’t be that surprising given the hefty rise in generation-on-generation pricing which has accompanied the current Pascal range of cards.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti specs
If it follows Nvidia passim the GTX 1080 Ti will be based on the exact same GP102 processor that’s currently powering the GTX Titan X graphical powerhouse. And that’s going to make it one hell of a gaming card.
Even with a modestly cut-down version of the GTX Titan X’s GP102 silicon, the GTX 1080 Ti will be a mighty 4K gamer. The rumours have the GTX 1080 Ti’s chip losing 256 CUDA cores, which translates to four streaming microprocessors (SMs), giving it a core count of 3,328. That’s still a hefty advantage over the 2,560 of the still seriously powerful GTX 1080.
The GTX 1080 Ti is likely to be clocked higher than the latest Titan X, which could end up making the performance delta between them closer than you might otherwise expect. And with the Titan X capable of nailing 60fps in most games at 4K, I’m betting Nvidia will be targeting that for their GTX 1080 Ti too.
There are some interesting rumours surrounding the memory configuration of the potential GTX 1080 Ti though. A leaked specs sheet has the GTX 1080 Ti using straight GDDR5 in its frame buffer, as opposed to the GDDR5X that both the GTX 1080 and Titan X are using. That would seem an odd choice, using a configuration with lower memory bandwidth than the next chip down the stack.
Some detective work has uncovered a database entry in a shipping manifest which looks to confirm the existence of a 10GB GTX 1080 Ti. Gotta love those shipping manifests, right? Otherwise we'd just be rumour-mongering about a prospective new card with only speculation and pure hope powering it. Now we know a new card with the GP102 GPU actually exists, and that's surely got to be the GTX 1080 Ti Jen-Hsun will be unveiling at CES in January.
And we know a little more than just that too, because the database entry lists it as a 10GB part, showing 10,240MB of GDDR memory. Presumably that's GDDR5, so it's now looking even more like likely not to be sporting the GDDR5X memory used in the Pascal-based Titan X. Which surely cannot be how it ships, especially with rumours of a Pascal refresh pushing GDDR5X down into the GTX 1070 and 1060 SKUs.
It still lists the card with a 384-bit aggregated memory bus, so losing 2GB compared with the Titan X's 12GB capacity shouldn't be too much of an issue. Even without the 'X' on the end of its memory spec it should still have a good chunk of video memory bandwidth available. Still, whether there’s an ‘X’ tacked on to the end of its GDDR5 memory subsystem or not, the GTX 1080 Ti looks like it's going to come with 10GB of video memory to play with.
If Nvidia are simply using the same GP102 processor they've jammed into the GTX Titan X then we'll be looking at the 16nm FinFET design they've used from manufacturer's TSMC. But with the release of the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti cards, however, Nvidia have debuted a new 14nm FinFET process made by Samsung. The differences between the two processes are likely to be more about marketing numbers than genuine manufacturing variations, so if we had to bet we'd suggest the GTX 1080 Ti will stick to the same 16nm design as the GTX Titan X.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti performance
As I mentioned earlier, the GTX 1080 Ti is likely to only be a little off the pace compared with the Pascal-powered GTX Titan X. With a focus on ensuring the card is capable of dealing with modern DX12 game engines running at 4K, I’m expecting great things performance-wise from the GTX 1080 Ti.
With (potentially) the same memory configuration and TDP as the GTX Titan X I’d be very surprised if the GTX 1080 Ti’s missing 256 CUDA cores actually make that much of a difference to the gaming performance of the card. And given it’s reported to be running its GP102 GPU at a higher clockspeed than the GTX Titan X - 1,623MHz vs. 1,531MHz - the architectural difference is going to be minimised due to Nvidia brute forcing the frequency instead.