What to Expect from NVIDIA Corporation's Next $1,200 Graphics Card

By Ashraf Eassa Markets Fool.com

Graphics specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) recently announced a new graphics processor for gamers, called the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The 1080 Ti is, per the company, 35% faster than its previous generation GeForce GTX 1080 flagship graphics processor and even manages to edge out its $1,200 Titan X.

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A reasonable way to think about the 1080 Ti, then, is as a significant price cut on the Titan X.

Image source: NVIDIA.

However, NVIDIA is surely going to want to have something viable to sell at the $1,200 price point since there's little point in buying the current Titan X with the 1080 Ti available for sale. Here's what I expect NVIDIA's Titan X replacement is likely to be.

Full-fat GP102

The current Titan X and the 1080 Ti are based on a chip that NVIDIA has code-named GP102. The GP102 chip that powers the Titan X has some functional units disabled, which means that the company could potentially sell fully enabled versions of the chip that deliver improved performance.

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The 1080 Ti has the same number of processor cores, which NVIDIA calls CUDA cores, enabled as the Titan X does (3,584 out of a total of 3,840 physically present on the chip), but it is cut down a little more in some other areas (fewer render output units and a narrower 352-bit memory interface compared to the Titan X's 384-bit memory interface -- don't worry too much about the specifics).

However, NVIDIA claims that the 1080 Ti is faster than the Titan X, despite the former having fewer of its components enabled. NVIDIA seems to be achieving this (assuming NVIDIA's marketing claims hold up) by using faster memory than it used on the Titan X to compensate for the narrower memory bus, and it is running the chip at a modestly higher frequency than it did the Titan X.

The logical next step for a potential Titan X would be to simply release a fully enabled version of GP102 paired with the faster 11-gigabit per second memory that NVIDIA is using on the GTX 1080 Ti (the Titan X uses slower 10-gigabit per second memory).

NVIDIA would likely be able to sell this at the same $1,200 price point that the current Titan X occupies. The company clearly wouldn't be able to make much of a performance-per-dollar pitch to potential customers, but such a product would certainly appeal to those gamers willing to spend lavishly to get the absolute best gaming performance available.

When will we see it?

NVIDIA probably isn't going to release such a product this month -- NVIDIA seems to like to space out its product launches so that it is continuously releasing new products into the market and staying in the spotlight.

In fact, the proper venue for such a launch is probably the company's annual GPU Technology Conference in May. The company has made it clear that it likes to launch new graphics cards at this event, and a Titan X graphics card based on a fully enabled GP102 chip seems like the perfect product to announce at the event.

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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.