Nvidia announces first Ampere GPU for datacentres

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the company's next graphics architecture today, the long-awaited Ampere. The six-part series, set in the CEO's kitchen and available to stream on YouTube, is largely focused towards high performance computing applications but does include a number of interesting facts and figures that'll be relevant for Nvidia's next-generation consumer graphics cards built on the same architecture. 

The first implementation of Ampere is called the A100, and according to Nvidia this 7nm GPU contains 54 billion transistors into an 826mm² die. (For context, the 12nm GeForce RTX 2080 Ti contains only around 19 billion transistors in a similar area.) The A100 can achieve 19.5TF in double-precision floating point calculations, which compares pretty favourably to AMD's recently announced Radeon 7 Pro which can only manage around 6.5TF. This tremendous level of compute is backed with 40GB of HBM2 memory with a a maximum bandwidth of 1.5TB/s.

The A100 is unsurprisingly capable of some pretty impressive performance in its intended use cases of data analytics and scientific computing, but it is far from being a consumer product with a reported price of roughly $20,000 for a single GPU. Still, this could actually be a good deal for scientific endeavours, as Nvidia claim a ballpark six times to seven times increase in performance compared to the earlier Volta architecture for AI tasks like deep learning training or inference, making it a better value proposition that also consumes far less power. You could potentially replace an entire rack of Volta-based servers with a single A100. It's not often that you see such a shift in processing power, and that's a good sign for Nvidia's future consumer efforts that will no doubt be based on the same Ampere architecture.

Read more