Nvidia is unveiling its new GeForce RTX 2000 series of graphics cards at Gamescom in Germany today. While we’ve seen a number of teasers and plenty of card leaks recently, the GeForce RTX 2080 is finally official. Based on Nvidia’s new Turing architecture, the RTX 2080 is designed to succeed the popular GTX 1080 and push new real-time ray-tracing effects in upcoming games.
At Nvidia’s event, the company is unveiling the RTX 2070, RTX 2080, and RTX 2080 Ti. Nvidia is promising “up to 6X the performance of previous-generation graphics cards,” and real-time ray tracing for these cards. Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, PNY, and Zotac will all have RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti cards available for preorder today, with cards available on September 20th. RTX 2070 cards will start at $499, with RTX 2080 at $699, and the RTX 2080 Ti starting at $999. Nvidia is also offering Founders Editions for all three graphics cards. The GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition will be priced at $599, with the RTX 2080 Founders Edition at $799, and the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition at $1,199. The Founders Edition cards will ship on September 20th.
Nvidia says the RTX 2080 is designed for overclocking, and the RTX 2070 will offer more performance (for ray-tracing) than Nvidia’s Titan XP card. The RTX 2080 Ti is the flagship, clocked at 1350MHz with 4352 CUDA cores and 11GB of GDDR6 RAM (full specs here), while the regular RTX 2080 will be clocked at 1515MHz with 2944 CUDA cores and 8GB of GDDR6 RAM (full specs here). The RTX 2070, meanwhile, is clocked at 1410MHz, with 2304 CUDA cores and 8GB of GDDR6 RAM. Nvidia is recommending PC gamers have a 650W power supply, as the base RTX 2080 draws up to 215 watts of power.
The main promise of these new cards is ray tracing, which is a rendering technique that results in real-time light reflections and cinematic effects that can make games look a lot more like movies. Ray tracing is something PC gamers have been promised for years, and it has long been considered the “holy grail” of video games. Nvidia is now aiming to bring it in real time to the masses.
The performance and ray-tracing support on the new RTX 2000 series is all thanks to it being based on Nvidia’s latest Turing architecture. “This is a new computing model, so there’s a new way to think about performance,” says Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang. “This new Turing processor is just a monster, it’s incredible.” Nvidia is now measuring its ray-tracing performance as a key target for these new cards. Huang showed off a number of demonstrations of existing cards and new rendering techniques with the RTX series.
The ray-tracing demonstrations were impressive, but most were limited to physically modeled materials, and reflections and lighting indoors. It’s the real-world game support that matters, and Nvidia is promising real-time ray tracing in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, and performance gains in lighting and other effects in Battlefield V and Metro Exodus. The demonstration of Tomb Raider was particularly impressive, with realistic shadows and lighting shown in nighttime scenarios.
The Metro Exodus demo involved sunlight from a window entering a room through a window in real time, with Nvidia’s RTX rendering the light inside a room far more accurately so that game developers can hide enemies and other objects out of a view without having to light up the entire room in a non-realistic fashion.
Battlefield V was easily the most impressive example of Nvidia’s RTX system. Reflections from explosions were accurately rendered onto nearby objects like cars, tanks, and even the ground and soldiers in the WW2 first-person shooter game. Flames and explosions will even reflect off of the metal on guns or even diffuse into the wooden parts of older guns in Battlefield V.
Nvidia is promising that even more games will get ray-tracing support than just the three titles it demonstrated today. The company briefly revealed 21 games will get RTX support soon, including Hitman 2, We Happy Few, PUBG, and Final Fantasy XV. 21 games is moderate for launch, but Nvidia will need to keep pushing game developers to adopt this new technology. Nvidia is also working with Microsoft to push ray-tracing, thanks to the company’s new DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API in Windows 10 to complement Nvidia’s RTX work. Epic Games will also make real-time ray-tracing available to Unreal Engine developers later this year.
While Nvidia is claiming “6 times more performance” with its Turing RTX cards over its Pascal-based GTX GPUs, the company is attempting to redefine performance comparisons that are limited to how well the new cards perform. Nvidia doesn’t even list the traditional floating point operations per second (known as teraflops), and has opted to hype two new performance capabilities. These are RTX-OPS, an average of the card’s performance across operations like shading, ray-tracing, etc, and giga rays per second which measures how well the new cards can ray-trace. Nvidia didn’t spend 10 years building its GTX Pascal-based GPUs to perform ray-tracing, so the performance comparison here feels less relevant.
We should get to spend more time with Nvidia’s latest RTX 2000 series at Gamescom this week, and we’re particularly interested to hear how the company will adapt these GPUs for laptops. Stay tuned for more information on Nvidia’s new RTX 2080.