NVIDIA Reveals New Top-end TITAN Xp Graphics Card, Forthcoming Support For Pascal On Mac
Posted on April 6, 2017 12:20 PM by Rob Williams
When NVIDIA unveiled its second-generation TITAN X last summer, it was a bit of an odd launch in that it came out of absolutely nowhere. Unlike most launches, the media was not given a heads-up that go-around. Instead, NVIDIA chief Jen-Hsun Huang decided to reveal the card to researchers, and given its target market of compute – not gaming – that made a ton of sense.
Well, NVIDIA is back at it again, with the out-of-nowhere TITAN Xp. Yes – the same name the entire world called the last TITAN X under our collective breaths. Despite the new name, though, NVIDIA sticks to the TITAN X name on the shroud, which is a choice I tend to agree with since “Xp” wouldn’t have as much of an aesthetic impact as the simple TITAN X name does (and TITAN “XP” might have led to too many ‘but does it give you experience points in your games?” questions).
I digress. Here’s the TITAN Xp:
NVIDIA’s TITAN Xp (The actual product will include a PCI bracket!)
So what are we dealing with, then?
TITAN X (2015)
TITAN X (2016)
TITAN Xp (2017)
If you’ve been paying attention to NVIDIA’s workstation graphics lineup lately, you probably know that the top-end Quadro P6000 (our review) features 3840 CUDA cores, meaning that last year’s TITAN X held a little something back. That’s been rectified with the TITAN Xp. At the same time, the Xp follows in the footsteps of the GTX 1080 Ti and adopts 11Gbps GDDR5X memory.
Overall, the Quadro P6000 and TITAN Xp are spec’d similarly, although the Xp peaks at about 50MHz higher (through GPU Boost), which will give it a slight edge. Helping to give it a definitive edge is the 11Gbps GDDR5X, delivering 547 GB/s of bandwidth, versus the P6000’s 432 GB/s.
I should be clear that the P6000 caters to a different market than TITAN Xp, but since the GPUs are so similar, and the P6000 used to be the company’s fastest overall graphics card, it makes for an interesting comparison nonetheless. Ultimately, this specs-check just shows that the TITAN Xp is definitively the fastest GPU NVIDIA has ever released. It also happens to cost $1,200 just like last summer’s TITAN X.
Unbelievably, this Mac Pro supports NVIDIA’s TITAN Xp
As straightforward a release as this is, there’s more to it than immediately meets the eye. I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around this, but the TITAN Xp officially supports the Mac, along with every other Pascal-based graphics card. Since Apple hasn’t released a Mac Pro in many years that supports user-replaceable GPUs, this announcement is a bit unusual. In effect, if you have an older Mac Pro, you can upgrade to the TITAN Xp or other Pascal GPUs, as long as you’re running the latest version of the OS (macOS Sierra 10.12.4).
Here’s where things get a little confusing. We’re told that the card will support the Mac Pro 5.1, Mac Pro 4.1, and Mac Pro 3.1 – the latter being released in 2008. However, the upcoming driver supports only the latest version of macOS, which only the Mac Pro 5.1 can upgrade to officially. Nonetheless, with its upcoming driver, even the MacBook Pros dating back to 2012 can support Pascal cards, provided you have an external enclosure for it.
As odd as this might all sound, this move could be a great one for NVIDIA as Apple recently announced that its next Mac Pro would experience a dramatic overhaul, and should become more upgradeable. The way it should have always been.