Big Kepler fulfills potential in Nvidia's Quadro K6000 graphics card

Nvidia's GK110 GPU is the big daddy of the Kepler generation. This seven-billion-transistor monster underpins the GeForce GTX Titan graphics card and the compute-oriented Tesla K20 family. Now, the chip has made its way into a workstation-focused product: the Quadro K6000.

Although Nvidia has a handful of Kepler-based Quadros, this is the first to tap the GK110 GPU. It's also the first implementation to use all 15 of the chip's SMX units. The GeForce and Tesla cards derived from the same silicon have at least one SMX unit disabled, leaving them with no more than 2688 ALUs. With all of its GPU resources intact, the Quadro K6000 has 2880 shader ALUs—nearly double the number present in Nvidia's previous Quadro flagship. Here's how the K6000 stacks up against its predecessor.

Model GPU ALUs Peak SP rate Memory
Quadro K6000 GK110 2880 5.2 TFLOPs 12GB 288GB/s 225W
Quadro K5000 GK104 1536 2.2 TFLOPs 4GB 173GB/s 122W

The Quadro K6000 promises 2.4 times the single-precision throughput of the K5000. Nvidia doesn't quote double-precision figures, but expect the new hotness to be a substantial improvement on that front. The Quadro K5000's GK104 GPU is limited to crunching double-precision math at just 1/24th the rate of single-precision work. In the Tesla K20 series, the GK110's DP throughput is about one third its SP rate.

Thanks to a wider memory interface and speedy GDDR5 RAM, the Quadro K6000 offers substantially more memory bandwidth than K5000. With 12GB of memory onboard, it also has a lot more RAM overall. Nvidia says the extra memory is needed to accommodate the larger data sets being used by artists, designers, and folks in the oil-and-gas industry.

Despite its impressive horsepower, the Quadro K6000 has a modest 225W TDP. That may be 103W more than the K5000's thermal envelope, but it's 25W less than the rating attached to the GeForce GTX Titan. The Tesla K20X, which has half the memory and 24% less SP throughput than the new Quadro, is rated for 235W.

The Quadro K6000 is scheduled to start shipping in September or October. Nvidia hasn't revealed pricing details yet, but you can bet the card won't be cheap. If you're at the Siggraph conference in Anaheim this week, you'll be able to see the K6000 being demoed at Nvidia's booth.

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