Nvidia Introduces New Graphics Cards as Competition Heats Up

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang isn’t making video gamers wait long for super-fast graphics cards built on the company’s new Turing chip design.

On Monday, just a week after Huang announced the Turing design for new corporate server products, the CEO had good news for gamers, too. Consumer graphics cards based on Turing will be available for pre-order immediately with deliveries in September and October.

Replacing last year’s Titan and GTX cards, three new RTX branded cards will be sold for $500 to $1,000 each. Special editions with higher speeds and better cooling features will cost $100 to $200 extra.

Last year’s Nvidia consumer graphics cards ran on a chip design called Pascal, now two generations old. The company made graphics cards for corporate customers based on a prior design called Volta, but it didn’t make mainstream consumer gaming cards with that chip.

On Monday, Huang showed off a series of demonstrations he said were running on the new RTX cards, but did not offer much in the way of industry standard benchmarks, or comparisons to older cards from his company or cards from competitors like Advanced Micro Devices. About the only description of the performance of the new cards that the company gave was that they are up to six times faster at conducting calculations than Nvidia’s prior consumer line.

Known for his offbeat sense of humor, Huang started the presentation by mentioning that some ordinary gamers had expressed hope that the company would make a version of its $68,000 DGX-1 supercomputer rig somehow cheap enough to be within reach of regular buyers. Putting up a picture of the DGX-1, Huang joked it would available for “three thousand easy payments of $19.95.”

In real world conditions, Nvidia’s Turing-based cards will likely be about 20% to 40% faster than older cards, analyst Ryan Shrout at Shrout Research, said. But the cards have special features designed to speed up some tasks like artificial intelligence applications and a particular graphics function known as ray tracing that helps depict light reflections. Some of the cards are also more expensive than current Nvidia products, he noted.

“My guess is that the additional traditional performance is going to be less impressive when the price change is brought into the picture,” Shrout said. But the special features “provide the ability for Nvidia to claim leadership in technology, thus the new brand and new prices.”

Shares of Nvidia (nvda) gained 1% on Monday after the announcement, giving them a total rise of 28% in 2018. That’s far better than the 3% gain posted by Intel (intc) for the year so far, but still far behind AMD’s (amd) 94% jump.

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Stella Densmore