With prices starting at $1,000, these new ray tracing GPUs should hit the sweet spot for architects, engineers and designers

Nvidia has expanded its professional family of desktop workstation GPUs, with the launch of two new Nvidia RTX cards based on its ‘Ampere’ architecture.

The Nvidia RTX A4000 (16 GB) and the Nvidia RTX A5000 (24 GB) will join the flagship Nvidia RTX A6000 (48 GB), which shipped earlier this year (read our review).

These are mid-range ‘Quadro’ GPUs in everything but name, as Nvidia is in the process of retiring that long-serving workstation brand. They offer more memory than their consumer GeForce counterparts and come with pro drivers with certification for a wide range of CAD/BIM and other 3D applications.

As with all ‘Ampere’ Nvidia RTX GPUs, the new models feature new RT Cores, Tensor Cores and CUDA cores – all of which can be used concurrently for ray tracing, shading and denoising tasks in RTX-enabled software such as Unreal Engine, Enscape, Autodesk VRED, Chaos Vantage and Nvidia Omniverse. Nvidia RTX GPUs can also be used with non RTX software, such as 3D modelling, VR and AI. Both GPUs support PCIe Gen 4, which offers double the bandwidth of PCIe Gen 3, so data can move from CPU to GPU much quicker.

Nvidia is also addressing the mobile workstation market with four new ‘Ampere’ Nvidia RTX laptop GPUs – the Nvidia RTX A2000 laptop (4 GB), Nvidia RTX A3000 laptop (6 GB), Nvidia RTX A4000 laptop (8 GB) and Nvidia RTX A5000 laptop (16 GB).

In addition, Nvidia continues to cater to users of 3D CAD and BIM tools that don’t necessarily need RTX ray tracing capabilities. It has launched two new entry-level laptop GPUs, the Nvidia T1200 and Nvidia T600, which are based on Nvidia’s previous-generation Turing architecture. Expect to find these in ultra slim mobile workstations.

The single slot Nvidia RTX A4000 GPU comes with a substantial 16 GB of GDDR6 memory

Ampere pro desktop GPUs

This is an important launch for Nvidia as it gives architects, engineers and product designers – some of the key target users for these types of GPUs – a much more affordable entry into the significantly enhanced Nvidia RTX ‘Ampere’ family. The estimated street price of the Nvidia RTX A4000 and RTX A5000 is $1,000 and $2,250 respectively.

On paper, the single slot Nvidia RTX A4000 looks to be a substantial upgrade to the Turing-based Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 it replaces, which impressed us greatly when it launched in 2019.

With 16 GB of GDDR6 ECC memory, twice that of the Quadro RTX 4000, it should be able to handle most datasets used for real time visualisation or GPU rendering in product development and AEC. It also has more than double the number of CUDA cores, and a significant uplift in single precision performance and Tensor performance. And as it’s a single slot GPU with a max power consumption of 140W, it will be available in a huge range of desktop workstation form factors, including the new HP Z2 Tower G8 also launched today (read this AEC Magazine article to find out more) .

Similar things can be said of the dual slot Nvidia RTX A5000, which Nvidia says offers the same levels of performance as a Turing-based Quadro RTX 6000 but is less than half the price.

With 24 GB of GDDR6 ECC memory it’s only a 50% uplift on the Quadro RTX 5000 it replaces but the RTX A5000 is expandable to 48 GB by connecting two GPUs together using Nvidia NVLink. The RTX A5000 also supports Nvidia RTX vWS (virtual workstation software) so the GPU can deliver multiple high-performance virtual workstation instances that enable remote users to share resources.

Full specs can be seen below.

Nvidia RTX (Ampere) /  Quadro RTX (Turing) comparison

Nvidia RTX A4000 Nvidia RTX A5000 Nvidia RTX A6000 Quadro RTX 4000 Quadro RTX 5000 Quadro RTX 6000
Architecture Ampere Ampere Ampere Turing Turing Turing
GPU memory  16 GB GDDR6  24 GB GDDR6  48 GB GDDR6  8 GB GDDR6 16 GB GDDR6 24 GB GDDR6
ECC memory Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CUDA cores   6,144   8,192  10,752 2304 3,072 4,608
 Tensor Cores  192  256  336 288 384 576
RT Cores  48  64  84 36 48 72
 SP perf  19.2 TFLOPS   27.8 TFLOPS  38.7 TFLOPS 7.1 TFLOPS 11.2 TFLOPS 16.3 TFLOPS
RT Core perf
37.4 TFLOPS  54.2 TFLOPS  75.6 TFLOPS N/A N/A N/A
Tensor perf
153.4 TFLOPS  222.2 TFLOPS  309.7 TFLOPS 57.0 TFLOPS 89.2 TFLOPS 130.5 TFLOPS
Max Power 140W 230W 300W 160W 265W 295W
Graphic bus  PCI-E 4.0 x16   PCI-E 4.0 x16   PCI-E 4.0 x16   PCI-E 3.0 x16   PCI-E 3.0 x16   PCI-E 3.0 x16 
Connectors   DP 1.4 (4)   DP 1.4 (4)   DP 1.4 (4)  DP 1.4 (3), USB-C DP 1.4 (4), USB-C DP 1.4 (4), USB-C
Form Factor  Single slot  Dual Slot   Dual Slot  Single slot  Dual Slot   Dual Slot 
vGPU Software
Nvlink N/A  2x RTX A5000  2x RTX A6000  N/A  2x RTX 5000   2x RTX 6000 
Power Connector   1x 6-pin PCIe   1x 8-pin PCIe  1x 8-pin CPU  1x 6-pin PCIe   1x 8-pin PCIe   2x 8-pin PCIe 

It’s interesting to note that Nvidia has not released a replacement for the CAD-focused Quadro P2200 (5 GB), which was a small improvement over the Quadro P2000, which we reviewed way back in 2017. However, we expect there to be a second wave of Nvidia RTX GPUs released later this year that cater more to entry-level users.

Ampere pro laptop GPUs

Nvidia has launched a wider spread of professional Nvidia RTX laptop GPUs, from the entry-level to the high-end, which should be available in Q2 this year in mobile workstations from all the usual suspects including HP, Dell, and Lenovo. This includes the Nvidia RTX A2000 Laptop (4 GB GDDR6), RTX A3000 Laptop (6 GB GDDR6), RTX A4000 Laptop (8 GB GDDR6), and RTX A5000 Laptop (16 GB GDDR6).

It’s good to see Nvidia giving these new GPUs a Laptop suffix. In the past there has been some confusion as to whether or not these are the same GPUs found in desktop workstation. However, in addition to having a smaller power budget than their desktop counterparts, the new laptop GPUs also have fewer CUDA, Tensor and RT cores.

Nvidia RTX laptop GPUs (Ampere)

RTX A2000 laptop RTX A3000 laptop RTX A4000 laptop RTX A5000 laptop  T600 Laptop  T1200 Laptop
Architecture Ampere Ampere Ampere Ampere Turing Turing
GPU memory  4 GB GDDR6  6 GB GDDR6  8 GB GDDR6  16 GB GDDR6 4 GB GDDR6 4 GB GDDR6
 CUDA cores   2,560   4,096   5,120   6,144   896   1,024 
  Tensor Cores  80   128  160  192 
 RT Cores  20   32  40  48 
 SP perf
 9.3 TFLOPS   12.8 TFLOPS   17.8 TFLOPS   21.7 TFLOPS   2.5 TFLOPS   3.7 TFLOPS 
RT perf
18.2 TFLOPS   25.0 TFLOPS  34.8 TFLOPS  75.6 TFLOPS 
Tensor perf
74.7 TFLOPS  102.2 TFLOPS  142.5 TFLOPS 174.0 TFLOPS
 Max Power 35 – 95W  60 – 130W   80 – 140W  80 – 165W   25W   35 – 95W 
Graphic bus  PCI-E 4.0 x8   PCI-E 4.0 x16  PCI-E 4.0 x16  PCI-E 4.0 x16  PCI-E 4.0 x8   PCI-E 4.0 x8 
 Connectors   DP 1.4, HDMI 2.1   DP 1.4, HDMI 2.1   DP 1.4, HDMI 2.1   DP 1.4, HDMI 2.1   DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b   DP 1.4, HDMI 2.1 

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Source: AEC