Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Scott Krager
If you get the chance to step into the GPU market, you will realize the wealth of options available in the market. Both from Nvidia as well as AMD. While having a lot of options is certainly a good thing, the one thing that you must keep in mind is that all the terminology might end up confusing you. Especially when you have architectures named Volta, Vega, as well as Pascal.
While these names certainly intrigue a person, they can also be intimidating to some people, and more importantly, they can confuse the living daylight out of the uninitiated. To tackle the situation the right way, we have decided to take a look at all three of these architectures, as well as give you a proper understanding of them.
Therefore, the next time you are in the market looking to buy a graphic card, you do not run into any issue like that.
For those who are unaware, Volta is among the latest GPU architecture from Nvidia, and even though it was replaced by the more mainstream Turing architecture, Volta did live its mark. The architecture came with great power, and it was built on the 12-nanometer manufacturing process. The biggest change in this architecture was that aside from the usual CUDA cores that have been the Nvidia signature for years, Volta also packed Tensor Cores.
The purpose of Tensor Cores had to do everything with artificial intelligence as well as deep and machine learning. Thanks to these Tensor Cores, the Volta was able to give a very high computing problem. It was using the HBM2 memory, as well as the high-speed NVLink 2.0.
With these things combined, you were getting incredibly fast speeds. However, the Volta architecture is strictly for the professional graphics cards, and Nvidia did not plan any mainstream launch of the Volta based GPUs.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the Vega architecture from AMD – a direct replacement to the highly successful Polaris architecture that managed to make a lot of waves in the market. The Vega architecture also goes by the name of the GCN 5th generation architecture. AMD used the 14-nanometer FinFET manufacturing process for the Vega-based GPUs.
Instead of using the more common GDDR memory type, Vega GPUs were powered by the HBM2 memory, that gave them the ability to keep the overall size small, but with incredibly fast performance. The most common Vega based GPUs in the market is the RX Vega 56, as well as Vega 64.
Both of these GPUs happen to be extremely powerful and are great for gaming in 1440p without any performance reduction whatsoever.
The oldest architecture on the list is the Pascal architecture by Nvidia. This is perhaps the oldest and most mature architectures that one could think of. The Nvidia GTX 1000 series was the first series to arrive with the Pascal architecture. Additionally, this architecture was also used in the Titan X Pascal, as well as Quadro P GPUs.
The purpose of the Pascal GPUs was to give a performance that was fast and have a lesser power consumption. Additionally, it had vast memory support ranging from GDDR5, and going all the way to GDDR5X, as well as HBM2.
Pascal also brought improved performance in VR, as well as NVLink that was in the workstation graphic cards available in the market.
The Nvidia Pascal based cards are still considered among the best in the market thanks to the performance that they have provided, and are still providing the same great performance. Needless to say, Pascal has aged really well.
Comparing the Architectures
As far as the comparison is concerned between all three architectures, the most successful happens to be the Pascal architecture. Not because it is old and has aged well, but because you have some great options in the entirety of the GTX 1,000 lineup.
Plus, if you want to go for something high-end, then you do have the option to choose the Titan X Pascal as well. Overall, as far as sheer performance and options are concerned, the Pascal is hard to beat from the three that we have listed here.
However, it is also important to know that if Volta ever becomes a mainstream gaming architecture, it might dethrone Pascal. But for now, it does not seem like it is going to happen, mainly because Nvidia was quick enough to replace the Volta architecture with the Turing architecture, and we are already using the Turing based gaming GPUs that are available in the market.
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Graphics cards architecture has come a long way, and there is no denying that. Each year or so, we are seeing new and improved graphics cards, that are becoming better than they were before. However, the thing is that this race is not something that is going to stop as long as the graphics card market stands still.
As far as the comparison between these architectures is concerned, the picture is rather clear. There is no point for anyone to go for the Vega architecture if they are looking for gaming performance because it simply does not match up.
If you are looking for great gaming performance that can be bought at whatever your budget is, then going for the Pascal architecture is something that makes total sense.
However, if you are looking for tasks that involve deep learning, machine learning, and other tasks like artificial intelligence, as well as gaming, then the Nvidia’s Volta architecture is the way to go because it achieves that like a champion. However, the important thing that you must know here is that Volta is expensive, and it is mainly built for computational tasks rather than gaming.
We hope that this comparison helps you find the best possible graphics card you can.