The first tantalisingly concrete details on Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs have arrived courtesy of the new ‘Big Red 200’ supercomputer which has been built for Indiana University. The Big Red 200 is one of the world’s first supercomputers to the user Nvidia’s next-generation graphics processors, offering a significant performance upgrade over Volta.
Indiana University’s Cray Shasta Shasta supercomputer utilises 672 dual-socket nodes filled with AMD Epyc 7742 processors. With the first phase of the supercomputer build now complete, Nvidia’s next-gen Ampere/Hopper chips are due to be installed in the summer.
In total, the Big Red 200 is expected to deliver around 8 petaflops of computer performance. Indiana University chose to wait a few extra months to benefit from Nvidia’s upcoming GPUs, a move which means more performance can be found while using fewer GPUs.
When it comes to the thorny question of how much extra performance Ampere or Hopper will offer, Brad Wheeler, vice president for information technology and chief information officer on Big Red 200, said “the newer silicon is expected to deliver 70 percent to 75 percent more performance than that of the current generation.”
To that end, we could be looking at Ampere/Hopper being between 70-75% faster than Volta in terms of like-for-like performance. Of course, Turing sits somewhere in the middle, and is currently Nvidia’s most advanced GPU architecture. Based upon Wheeler’s claims though, it looks as if the recent rumours suggesting next-gen Ampere would be a 50% improvement over Turing could actually be bang on the money.
The next big question is when Nvidia is even going to reveal its next-gen GPUs. We would hope GTC 2020 in March would be an apt time but the truth of the matter is Nvidia is probably waiting for AMD to show its hand, at least in the gaming segment. AMD’s Navi refreshes and high-end Big Navi are expected to launch later this year and will reportedly offer performance capable of competing with Nvidia’s mightiest Turing GPUs. Nvidia’s trump card would be announcing the GeForce RTX 3000 series and gazumping the arrival of Big Navi.