Fuck-Up 970

It’s interesting which manipulative influences the Internet can have if you don’t look at the lie behind the lie and read the wrong articles. Yepp, I’m talking about nVidias slightly insane marketing SNAFU with wrong specs on their GTX 970 card and I’m writing this because as usual some post on the Adobe forums set me off.

Undeniably, someone lied or, as they like to call it today, “miscommunicated” something – internally between departments and to the end users. Now that’s not uncommon, as nVidia have a history of bending the truth so it fits their marketing, but hey, shit happens everywhere else, too. From Apple being less than exact about their iPhone memory specs to intel not telling you about dysfunctional PCI and SATA controllers or TPM modules, there have been many examples in the past. You had forgotten those, have you?

And that’s where it get’s interesting. As a user, do you actually have a choice or should you be concerned? The phrase used by the person posting on the forum was, direct quote,…:

…would like to have it perform as it should.

…which of course is the most ridiculous thing you can ever say. Since there never was a GTX 970 actually working to the initial design specs, how can you even draw a comparison and know what you are missing? That’s like saying you want to buy a car that was only shown as a design study and never actually built, just because you got it in your head that it could be your dream car. In fact if someone hadn’t caught nVidia in the act during some very deep and nerdy testing, we would not even know that there is something afoot. And that ultimately is the point: Even if you bought this “defective” card, its performance would outstrip your previous model’s performance by at least a noticeable margin, if not an order of magnitude and in the end you couldn’t care less if ins some secret lab it was designed to be a different beast. You’d just accept it because you wouldn’t know any better. As Cypher so wonderfully says in The Matrix: “Ignorance is bliss.”

The other part of the whole affair is of course that in order to benefit from such performance, whatever tools you use have to support it. In the specific case the discussion revolved around Element 3D, which of course can be demanding especially when using raytracing features, motion blur or DOF, but, and that is again my point, it’s not a game engine and doesn’t even pretend to do everything in realtime. Yes, you can wait for those frames to render even on a beefy system! Conversely, you do not even know how the internal shaders and other code work. Just having more cores available must not necessarily accelerate things, if the internal logic is not parallelized. As a plagued After Effects user suffering its single-threadedness in many areas you should know better! Use a single pre-comp as a texture in Element 3D and your whole performance goes up in smoke and beyond the simple requirement for sufficient memory to store your models and textures it may not make any difference at all if you were to render the scene on my aging GTX 580 vs. the GTX 970. And finally – if you really were that obsessed about performance, you could just have gotten over it and bought a GTX 980. Just saying….

So to reiterate my point: The user wound himself up over a non-issue, or as I called it, fell into “fictional quantum computing” mode, looking for something that may not even exist. Even hypothetically there would be at best nanosecond differences in frame rates if those M.I.A. 8 extra cores were functional and that last half Gigabyte of VRAM running at full speed – strictly speaking for content creation apps, not games. All this based on a mis- or non-understanding of some of the underlying technical aspects, which ultimately is getting near a point: As with all performance considerations, look at all sides. Think about what you actually need as opposed to “would be nice”. There is no point in getting an expensive “heating brick” (aka your graphics card) just for some extruded text just as stuffing your system with lots of RAM and fast SSDs does not magically resolve all cache and rendering issues you may have.

That doesn’t change the fact that nVidia cheated and suckered their customers into buying something different than was promised, but that’s an entirely separate matter and by all means should only bother game afficionados that cringe when their stuff doesn’t run with all bells on in 4k at 60 FPS. Funnily now that people return their 970s all over the place they could become so cheap, it might be a good opportunity to get one on the dime and it would be plenty good for the next three years…

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