At Nvidia’s GTC 2020 kick-off on Oct 5, 2020, the company quietly retired the Quadro brand and replaced it with RTX. To inaugurate the new brand, they launched a powerhouse of a new workstation add-in board (WS-AIB).
Nvidia introduced the Quadro brand for bin-selected workstation GPUs in late 1999. Since then, and as we predicted at the time, “Nvidia’s subsidized business plan that pays for R&D out of mass-market sales spells big problems for the resource-strapped, other workstation AIB suppliers. This is indeed disruptive and will accelerate the consolidation of the market while at the same time raising the level of technology.” (The Peddie Report, V.12, No. 45, Nov 8, 1999, p1784)
Now fast forward 20 years. I mentioned in my Siggraph blog, that the coronavirus pandemic has shifted the way content is, and will be created and consumed. Work now often involves teams dispersed worldwide, working remotely on high-resolution content while using multiple workloads and requiring massive computing resources.
Recognizing that, Nvidia introduced its RTX A6000 and A40 workstation-class AIBs. These boards use the 8nm GA102 GPU Nvidia introduced recently. The Ampere-based A6000 WS AIB has 10,752 CUDA cores and 336 Tensor cores, a massive 48GB of GDDR6 that can deliver 16Gbps via a 348-bit bus. The A6000 has four DisplayPort 1.4, while the A40 has three, and both AIB draws 300W. The A40 is basically the same as the A600, except it uses passive cooling instead of forced air. Both WS AIBs have a 112.5 GB/s NVlink port.
Nvidia’s A6000 WS AIB (Source Nvidia)
Pumping up the VRAM to 48GB is a first and a plus. Designers will be able to load most if not all, their model into high-speed localized private memory. And that should speed up things considerably. Better than SSD, private, super-wide bus high-speed RAM is the best choice. The price hasn’t been revealed yet, but we won’t be surprised to see these new AIBs offered for $12,000 or more.
The Nvidia RTX A6000 will be available from channel partners, including PNY, Leadtek, Ingram Micro, Ryoyo, and nvidia.com.
Nvidia’s passive cooled server AIB A40 (Source Nvidia)
The A40 is the impressive device. How a 300W AIB can be passively cooled while inside a server is the stuff science-fiction is made of. We assume the highly finned and ducted bronze heatsink is being aided by the server’s air-flow cooling system, which means A40 server chassis must be custom designed for A40s.
The Nvidia RTX A6000 and Nvidia A40 will be available from OEM workstation and server vendors worldwide starting early next year.
A wide range of workstations are expected from BOXX, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, and servers are expected from Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Lenovo.
Quadro was a reliable and trusted brand for 20 years. And now Nvidia is kicking off a new brand and no doubt hoping it will be as durable and embraced as the beloved Quadro was—The king is dead, long live the king.
Top image courtesy of krasoty-novoi-zelandii