Kepler: The Return
When Nvidia’s Kepler GTX GeForce 680 launched amidst much hype and fanfare, it was an revolutionary step forward from the days of Fermi. The changes and advances were significant in just about every facet, and the popularity of Kepler is a testament to its own success. So where to go from there? Moving forward, the 700 series is the next natural step for Nvidia, but the advances are more modest; it’s now evolutionary, a jump ahead, but not quite the giant leap we saw when Kepler launched.
So, how did we get here? After the 600 series lineup had matured, we saw the launch of Nvidia’s GTX Titan. Turns out that Titan was the answer to our collective and confused “Why?” as far as Nvidia’s product lineup goes, but it seems we didn’t know it at the time. In hindsight, it now makes sense because the GeForce GTX 780 appears to be more of an improvement and refinement of Titan, not the GTX 680.
The actual Kepler core architecture on the GeForce GTX 780 actually isn’t too dissimilar from the previous 600 series, and actually shares more in common with the GTX Titan. In comparison to Titan, the new 780 is very much an evolution in the development process. The die size gets a bit of an increase to 561mm2 (up from 550mm2), but the CUDA cores aren’t quite as high on the 780, so the quick math by looking at the stats says the 780 won’t be as powerful as Titan, but also nowhere near the price either, with the GTX 780 settling in at $649 retail.
The GeForce GTX 780 comes with 3GB of GDDR5 in a 384-bit bus, while clock speeds are 863MHz Base Clock (core) and 1502MHz memory. The GPU Boost clock is 900MHz, but remember, this is the minimum you can expect to achieve; higher speeds are absolutely possible.
Don’t expect bigger frame buffers though, folks. If you want more, you have to move up to the GTX Titan. It appears Nvidia won’t cannibalize their own lineup at the upper tier. If you have the money and pine for a “juiced” GTX 780, it’s called Titan and you obviously have the means to pay for it at those elite echelons of performance.
Here’s an image that shows a bit more detail on the particulars:
As you can see, the Kepler GK110 chip runs at a base clock of 863MHz, with a guaranteed Boost Clock of 902MHz. Remember, each card is different so there is no final clock that can be identified. Theoretically, many cards could go higher right out of the box; in fact, our particular card runs at 1006MHz without touching a thing.
Perhaps most significant specification on the new Kepler flagship is the power draw, with a TDP of 250W. That is impressive given the horsepower under the hood (as you’ll soon see), and this translates to 6-pin and 8-pin connectors being necessary to power the card.
Let’s take a closer look now at the card.