NVIDIA has released a new video dubbed ‘The Remarkable Art & Science of Modern Graphics Card Design,’ seemingly confirming that the rumored 12-pin power connector will indeed feature in several of its next-gen Ampere GPUs.
Part science lesson, part history lesson, and part dive into the design and manufacturing process behind NVIDIA’s GPUs, the video showcases the lengths the company has gone to innovate while tackling the myriad challenges that have sprung up along the way. As NVIDIA thermal architect David Haley explains:
“As we move forward we are taking a holistic approach, because making a GPU isn’t all about the thermal solution; it’s about bringing all the pieces of the product together. Considering thermal design, mechanical design, electrical design, with industrial design tying it all together to unleash the full potential of the GPU with an obsessive focus on keeping the system cool and quite.”
Director of system engineering Gabriele Gorla also touches on some of the main hurdles faced:
“When we come up with a new architecture, we have lofty dreams for performance, but one of the things we also like to do is to generate more performance by getting more power into the GPU. Whenever we talk about GPU performance, it all comes from the more power you give and can dissipate, the more performance you get. The biggest challenge when you do a very high end board and try to squeeze it into 6 to 7 inches is the power density becomes really high.”
In particular, Gorla points to signal integrity and the phenomenon of cross talk, which intensifies as GPUs become more and more compact. Part of NVIDIA’s efforts to mitigate this is to have more PCB layers and alter their layout, including reducing the power connector’s size.
Gorla remarks, ‘one of components that we reduced the size of significantly was the power connector, and we designed a new connector, which is smaller than the PCI Express connector but actually ends up carrying more power,’ with an onscreen graphic showcasing a ‘compact 12-pin connector compatible with PCIe 8-pin cables (using an included adapter).’
The video also touches on what is described as a ‘breakthrough thermal technology.’ As NVIDIA’s senior industrial design Joseph Lee notes:
“One of the hardest challenges for industrial designs is you should try not to look at what’s been done before. As soon as you start looking at what’s been done before, you just naturally become stuck with it. As a design team before we start diving into conceptualizing phase, we naturally gravitated towards this idea where really the thermal aspect of design is fully embraced. From that foundation we were able to achieve this breakthrough thermal technology.”
While the next-gen Ampere GPUs weren’t overtly mentioned, the subtext is clear – NVIDIA is teasing some seismic changes and feathered as close as possible without outright revealing them. We’ll have to wait another week for the big blowout on September 1 during the GeForce Special Event.