Nvidia just made virtual reality more affordable and gave it a lot more head room, after introducing the Pascal-based GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 in Austin last Friday night.
The $600 GTX 1080 and $380 GTX 1070 are each more powerful than Nvidia's $1,000 GTX Titan X, the top dog until the May 27 launch of the new Pascal GPUs, although the GTX 1070 won't launch until June 10.
The GTX 1080 is even more powerful than a pair of $550 GTX 980s running SLI. And head to head in VR, the GTX 1080 delivers double the performance of the Titan X.
That massive leap forward from the last gen hardware to the price economy and pure power of the new gen cards was driven by Nvidia's Pascal architecture.
Powering The Performance
The one-two punch of aggressively priced graphics cards are based on Nvidia's new 16nm Pascal architecture, which crams transistors into an even tighter space than the last gen Maxwell's 28nm process.
And thanks to the generation skipping 16nm FinFET process Nvidia used, the GTX 1080's faster and more efficient bundle of 7.2 billion transistors deliver three times the power economy of the Titan X. And it does so while drawing 180 watts through a single 8-pin connector.
Nvidia didn't detail the differences between the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, with the former cranking out 9 teraflops (TFlops) of power and the latter on its heels with 6.5 TFlops. One of the major differences between the two Titan tamers is their memory.
While both are fitted with 8 GB of RAM, the GTX 1080 uses the older GDDR5. The GTX 1080, meanwhile, leverages Micron's GDDR5X memory that operates at 10 Gbps, about 3 Gbps faster than the Titan.
The GeForce GTX 1080 is "the most powerful gaming GPU ever built, and some of our finest work," said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president of NVIDIA's PC business.
Beyond stomping the Titan into the middle of the company's range, the new Pascal GPUs also introduced a pair of new Nvidia features: Simultaneous Multi-Projection and Ansel.
Ansel, a screenshot tool, will give gamers the ability to stop time in games and free camera controls to take 2D and 360 snapshots. So users can take 360 snapshots in any 3D game that supports Ansel and then view them in 360 on VR headsets.
Simultaneous Multi-Projection corrects what's sent to and displayed on peripheral screens in multi-monitor setups. The side monitors in a three-display setup are typically angled in to the user, but they still display graphics as if the user is looking at them head on.
"By creating multiple view ports of the game world you're playing in, we can project accurate views of the world onto each monitor, improving the view of the world and the level of immersion," says Nvidia.
Why buy a $550 GTX 980 when a more powerful GTX 1070 only costs $380? What about a $480 R9 Fury X from rival AMD? The value of two high-end cards plummets, along with that of everything beneath them, lowering the barriers of entry to PC gaming and high-end VR.
On top of that, the two new Pascal GPUs give VR developers more headroom to build out more robust experiences. And with VR-ready cards like the GTX 980 and AMD R9 290x set to be devalued, VR is about to get a lot more affordable for a lot more people.
And then there's the other shoe, which has yet to drop. AMD has been working on new GPUs that'll leverage a 14nm process.