Back in early 2016 we reported on the boastful announcement of AMD’s new 14 nanometer Polaris line of GPUs and wondered what nVidia’s response will be. Just a scant few days ago, AMD explained that their business strategy was not to target the high-end market, but rather to increase their Total Addressable Market (TAM) – the amount of people who desire to buy a product. They further speculated that nVidia is more likely going to aim for the high-end market with their upcoming Pascal line and not increasing their TAM. Given nVidia’s history of expensive high-end graphics cards one might understand why they made such an assumption.
However, after what might as well have been 30 seconds, nVidia unveiled their upcoming Pascal line and two flagship cards: The GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 running on 16 nanometer architectures. More tech-savvy people than I have written about the hardware and the bundled software, but suffice to say that many brave statements were made and I’m here to puzzle out what it may all mean. The 1080 is expected to far exceed the overpriced and overpowered monster that is the Titan X and nVidia expects it to be equivalent to or better than two GTX 980 cards running in SLI. Even their lower-end (to use the term loosely) 1070 is expected to outperform the Titan X. Furthermore, the two cards are going to demand far less power than the current iteration due to their reduction in transistor size requiring one measly 8-pin connector.
The most crushing reveal of all, however, was the price: the 1080 is going to be priced at just 600$ (far less than the Titan X that hovers around or above 1000$) while the 1070 will be priced at just 380$. While I’m going to definitely wait for further information, as this seems to be just a marketing pissing contest for the most part, I do have a bit of buyer’s remorse over recently spending about 450$ on a GTX 970. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who splurged on a Titan X earlier this week, though, as the new GPUs will be available starting May 27th and June 10th respectively for the 1070.
So what does it all mean? Well I wouldn’t say that nVidia has just blown AMD out of the water, their products targeting a lower price point starting at 350$, but it will definitely disrupt their “TAM increase” plans at least a bit. My guess is that nVidia is aggressively pushing for getting cheaper VR-ready high-end cards into as many systems as they can. It’s a clever move and a safe one as well, as GPU power while definitely being a big help in running VR games it does not live or die by the VR market. AMD, however, still have the ever-growing laptop and notebook market and this might be the year that the concept of “gaming laptops” takes off as more than just a cruel joke.
AMD might have struck the first blow in the GPU arms race, but nVidia seems to be bent on delivering a swift riposte before the competition has had the time to ship their product. Whether or not the Pascal line is everything the marketing department promised remains to be seen in about a month’s time.