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February 15, 2018

Nvidia may reveal dedicated ‘Turing’ cryptocurrency mining cards in March

by John_A

Nvidia introduced its next-generation “Volta” graphics chip architecture in May, which first appeared in the GV100 chip firmly inserted into Nvidia’s Tesla V100 graphics card targeting data centers. While that specific GPU won’t appear in gaming products, Nvidia is expected to introduce new graphics cards for the gaming market, possibly codenamed “Turing,” during its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) starting March 26. 

The Turing news may be confusing given rumors about “Ampere” surfacing last week. Ampere is supposedly locked and loaded to replace Nvidia’s current Pascal-based GeForce GTX 10 Series graphics cards starting with the GV104 chip serving as the new high-end solution. Cards based on this specific chip are expected to go retail on April 12, falling in line with reports that Nvidia will introduce a new family of gaming products at GTC 2018. 

That said, the GV104 will supposedly power the GeForce GTX 2080 and 2070. Meanwhile, the GV102 could address the high-end enthusiast market such as the next Titan-branded card and GTX 2080 Ti. The GV106 could target mid-range solutions while the GV107 and GV108 serve budget-oriented customers. But that leaves two questions: What about Volta and what’s up with Turing? 

The Turing code name stems from a Reuters article covering Nvidia’s quarterly results conference call with analysts and the press last week. The article focuses on Nvidia’s struggle to keep graphics cards in stock for gamers, as cryptocurrency miners are driving up prices by depleting supplies. Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said gaming GPUs are at a historical low. 

That leads us to the three code names: Volta, Ampere, and Turing. What we do know is that Nvidia’s new Volta architecture resides in the Tesla V100 graphics card. We also know that Nvidia typically doesn’t create different architectures for different markets. If anything, Nvidia creates one generational architecture and produces a handful of different, tweaked chips based on that design for multiple markets. 

Everything going forward most likely is still Volta. But the Ampere and Turing code names may be used to describe cards for two different markets given the new landscape: Gaming and cryptocurrency mining. Previous rumors pointed to Ampere code-named gaming cards while Turing likely references to cryptocurrency mining cards. Those names may be reversed too, but highly unlikely. 

Why? The Turing code name stems from Alan Turing, an English computer scientist, theoretical biologist, mathematician, and cryptanalyst. The use of his name for a class of add-in GPU cards dedicated to cryptocurrency mining makes sense given his work on cryptography. He helped crack coded messages sent by the Nazis, contributing to the Allies winning World War II. 

Given gaming-focused add-in cards are at an all-time low, this Volta-based three-tier scenario is likely what Nvidia plans to discuss in March. There is also speculation that Nvidia scrapped the Ampere code name altogether because it’s used by an ARM-based server maker of the same name. This wouldn’t matter given Volta is still the underlying GPU architecture while the Ampere and Turing names merely distinguish two mainstream-focused audiences. 

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Nvidia’s updates EULA to ban the use of gamer-oriented GPUs in data centers
  • Defying supply issues, Nvidia Titan V sports 12GB of HBM2
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  • Intel promises its new CPUs will match Nvidia’s potent GTX 1060, thanks to AMD


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