NVIDIA's Volta GPU platform wants to take the AI world by storm

NVIDIA had plenty of big announcements to make during its GTC keynote today, but one of the biggest was the reveal of its new Volta GPU platform. More powerful than any GPU platform NVIDIA has released before (obviously), the company envisions Volta has the go-to platform to accelerate AI development and high performance computing. The question now becomes just how much more powerful Volta actually is.

Looking at NVIDIA's numbers, the increase seems quite substantial. While CEO Jensen Huang was on stage presenting the new platform, he said that it's build with a whopping 21 billion transistors, with NVIDIA later claiming that it "delivers the equivalent performance of 100 CPUs for deep learning." This new architecture should represent a significant increase over current and past NVIDIA platforms.

For instance, when compared the company's current Pascal platform – which new cards like the GTX 1080 Ti are built on – NVIDIA says we can expect a 5x improvement in peak teraflops. That increase in peak teraflops climbs to 15x when compared to Maxwell architecture. Assuming those numbers hold up in third-party benchmarks, that's pretty astounding when you consider that Maxwell was only launched two years ago.

"Deep learning, a groundbreaking AI approach that creates computer software that learns, has insatiable demand for processing power," Huang said. "Thousands of NVIDIA engineers spent over three years crafting Volta to help meet this need, enabling the industry to realize AI's life-changing potential."

Volta architecture will first be seen in the NVIDIA Tesla V100 data center GPU. The massive GPU uses 640 Tensor cores to reach that peak performance of 120 teraflops. It's also packing 16GB of HBM2 DRAM, which can reach peak speeds of 900GB/sec.

It's certainly an impressive GPU, but it's also not intended for consumer use. We'll likely see the Volta platform make it to consumer cards before long, but whether or not those will come packing these performance numbers remains to be seen. Still, if you're firmly on the NVIDIA side of the graphics debate, this is certainly an exciting announcement.

For more on the Tesla V100 GPU, you can check out NVIDIA's own (very) in-depth look at the card here. Otherwise, be sure to head down to the comments section to let us know what you think of this new Volta platform.