By Mike McCarthy
A number of new technologies and products were just announced at this year’s Computex event in Taipei, Taiwan. Let’s take a look at ones that seem relevant to media creation pros.
Nvidia released a line of mobile workstation GPUs based on its newest Turing architecture. Like the GeForce lineup, the Turing line has versions without the RTX designation. The Quadro RTX 5000, 4000 and 3000 have raytracing and Tensor cores, while the Quadro T2000 and T1000 do not, similar to the GeForce 16 products. The RTX 5000 matches the desktop version, with slightly more CUDA cores than the GeForce RTX 2080, although at lower clock speeds for reduced power consumption.
The new Quadro RTX 3000 has similar core configuration to the desktop Quadro RTX 4000 and GeForce RTX 2070. This leaves the new RTX 4000 somewhere in between, with more cores than the desktop variant, aiming to provide similar overall performance at lower clock speeds and power consumption. While I can respect the attempt to offer similar performance at given tiers, doing so makes it more complicated than just leaving consistent naming for particular core configurations.
Nvidia also announced a new “RTX Studio” certification program for laptops targeted at content creators. These laptops are designed to support content creation applications with “desktop-like” performance. RTX Studio laptops will include an RTX GPU (either GeForce or Quadro), an H-Series or better Intel CPU, at least 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, and at least a 1080p screen. Nvidia also announced a new line of studio drivers that are supposed to work with both Quadro and GeForce hardware. They are optimized for content creators and tested for stability with applications from Adobe, Autodesk, Avid, and others. Hopefully these drivers will simplify certain external GPU configurations that mix Quadro and GeForce hardware. It is unclear whether or not these new “Studio” drivers will replace the previously announced “Creator Ready” series of drivers.
Intel announced a new variant of its top end 9900K CPU. The i9-9900KS has a similar configuration, but runs at higher clock speeds on more cores, with a 4GHz base frequency and allowing 5GHz boost speeds on all eight cores. Intel also offered more details on its upcoming 10nm Ice Lake products with Gen 11 integrated graphics, which offers numerous performance improvements and VNNI support to accelerate AI processing. Intel is also integrating support for Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6 into the new chipsets, which should lead to wider support for those interfaces. The first 10nm products to be released will be the lower-power chip for tablets and ultra portable laptops with higher power variants coming further in the future.
AMD took the opportunity to release new generations of both CPUs and GPUs. On the CPU front, AMD has a number of new third-generation 7nm Ryzen processors, with six to 12 cores in the 4GHz range and supporting 20 lanes of fourth-gen PCIe. Priced between $200 and $500, they are targeted at consumers and gamers and are slated to be available July 7th. These CPUs compete with Intel’s 9900K and similar CPUs, which have been offering top performance for Premiere and After Effects users due to their high clock speed. It will be interesting to see if AMD’s new products offer competitive performance at that price point.
AMD also finally publicly released its Navi generation GPU architecture, in the form of the new Radeon 5700. The 5000 series has an entirely new core design, which they call Radeon DNA (RDNA) to replace the GCN architecture first released seven years ago. RDNA is supposed to offer 25% more performance per clock cycle and 50% more performance per watt. This is important, because power consumption was AMD’s weak point compared to competing products from Nvidia.
While GPU power consumption isn’t as big of a deal for gamers using it a couple hours a day, commercial compute tasks that run 24/7 see significant increases in operating costs for electricity and cooling when power consumption is higher. AMD’s newest Radeon 5700 is advertised to compete performance-wise with the GeForce RTX 2070, meaning that Nvidia still holds the overall performance crown for the foreseeable future. But the new competition should drive down prices in the mid-range performance segment, which are the cards most video editors need.
Mike McCarthy is an online editor/workflow consultant with over 10 years of experience on feature films and commercials. He has been involved in pioneering new solutions for tapeless workflows, DSLR filmmaking and multi-screen and surround video experiences. Check out his site.