More VRAM, more power, more money

This morning, NVIDIA is quietly adding its beast of high-end video cards with the third version of the GeForce RTX 3080, simply called the GeForce RTX 3080 12GB. Just as the name suggests on the can, this latest GeForce card is more or less a version of the existing RTX 3080 with 12GB of memory, and the extra capacity and memory bandwidth resulting from it. This latest introduction to the video card is a relatively muted launch for the company, and NVIDIA isn’t making much of a fuss about the new card – nor is it announcing a price for it.

The third member of the RTX 3080 family comes when the cryptocurrency-driven GPU shortage has officially entered its second year. NVIDIA and its partners sell every card they can make, and as a result, the traditional product stack logic has gone through the window at 360 fps. Instead, NVIDIA (and AMD) remains to optimize their products to best meet that insatiable demand, along with getting every usable chip on the card and in the market. Even with the fact that NVIDIA switched its non-3090 cards to the Ethereum hashrate unrefined LHR version more than half a year ago, there is no immediate sign that high demand for video cards will soon disappear.

Accordingly, NVIDIA doesn’t say much about the new RTX 3080 SKU, primarily because they don’t need it. Which is certainly not a criticism of NVIDIA, but it is a sign of the times. Officially, the card exists for high-end games, but NVIDIA is not trying to put together any kind of promotional campaign that highlights the benefits of the card, or why they thought it was necessary to introduce a 12 GB SKU now, etc. Even the announcement of the card itself is buried in the announcement of DLSS support for the Playstation 4 port (God of War). Simply put, the GeForce RTX 3080 12GB now exists, and for now, that’s enough for NVIDIA.

Comparison of NVIDIA GeForce specifications
RTX 3080 Ti RTX 3080 12GB RTX 3080 10GB RTX 3070
CUDA colors 10240 8960 8704 5888
ROPs 112 96 96 96
Base Clock 1.37GHz 1.26GHz 1.44GHz 1.58GHz
Boost Clock 1.67 GHz 1.71GHz 1.71GHz 1.725GHz
Memory Clock 19Gbps ​​GDDR6X 19Gbps ​​GDDR6X 19Gbps ​​GDDR6X 14Gbps GDDR6
Memory bus width 384-bit 384-bit 320-bit 256-bit
Single Precision Perf. 34.1 TFLOPS 30.6 TFLOPS 29.8 TFLOPS 20.3 TFLOPS
Tensor Perf. (FP16) 136 TFLOPS 122 TFLOPS 119 TFLOPS 81 TFLOS
Tensor Perf. (FP16-Sparse) 273 TFLOPS 244 TFLOPS 238 TFLOPS 163 TFLOPS
TDP 350W 350W 320W 220W
GPU GA102 GA102 GA102 GA104
Transistor Count 28B 28B 28B 17.4B
Architecture Ampere Ampere Ampere Ampere
Production process Samsung 8nm Samsung 8nm Samsung 8nm Samsung 8nm
Launch date 06/03/2021 11/01/2022 09/17/2020 10/29/2020
Launch Price IFRS: $ 1199 IFRS: [undefined] IFRS: $ 699 IFRS: $ 499

So what does the latest RTX 3080 SKU bring to the table compared to the 10GB RTX 3080 classic? The biggest point is, of course, the memory capacity, but a few different things are actually happening here.

As for the GPU, NVIDIA is actually using a slightly better version of its honorable GA102 GPU, which is now used on 5 different desktop video cards. The GA102 version used here has a slight increase in the number of SMs enabled compared to the OG RTX 3080, from 70 SMs compared to 68 on the original card. Clock speeds have also changed a bit; while the official boost clock is still 1.71GHz, the base clock speed for the new SKU is 1.26GBz, 180MHz below the more basic 3080. In the end, this seems to be a function of TDP, as additional memory and additional transistors illuminate the GPU will increase needs for card energy, especially in the maximum load scenario.

In terms of memory, the increase to 12GB GDDR6X comes with a corresponding increase in memory bus width. The RTX 3080 12GB sees the full 384-bit GA102 memory bus enabled, reflecting the addition of 2 more GDDR6X memory chips (64-bit) to the memory bus, bringing the total to 12 chips / 384-bit. According to NVIDIA’s specifications, they use the same 19Gbps ​​GDDR6X chips as on the classic RTX 3080, so the memory speeds are neither increased nor decreased. So, expanding the memory bus brings with it an additional 2 GB of VRAM – which will come in handy at 4K – as well as increasing memory bandwidth by 20%. Compared to the 10GB RTX 3080 and its 760GB / second memory bandwidth, the 12GB RTX 3080 offers 912GB / second bandwidth.

But to pay the bill for all this, so to speak, the TDP of the newer 12GB SKU is also larger than the 10GB card. Here, NVIDIA’s official / minimum TDP has increased from 320W to 350W, an increase of 9%. And as we mentioned earlier, even with this increase in TDP, the minimum / base clock speed still needed to be reduced a bit. This gives the RTX 3080 12GB the same official TDP ratings as the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090, and if these values ​​are correct, then it implies that the new card will have the lowest energy efficiency of them all.

Speaking of RTX 3080 Ti, the configuration of the new card immediately raises the question of what to expect in terms of performance compared to NVIDIA’s best 3080 card – which is essentially slightly cheaper than RTX 3090. RTX 3080 Ti was about 10% faster than the original RTX 3080, and while benchmarks will be needed to get the exact numbers, I expect the RTX 3080 12GB to essentially share the difference. That would put it about 5% faster than the OG card, and the RTX 3080 Ti about 5% faster than that. But while emphasizing the fact that this is an estimate, it should be noted that the difference will vary from game to game and that games that are particularly sensitive to bandwidth have the most gains, especially at 4K.

Unfortunately, the prices here will not offer many guides. Since NVIDIA doesn’t even sell Founder’s Edition cards, they don’t provide official IFRS – and it’s not as if the irrational market would follow it anyway. The best guide we currently have is to look at what NVIDIA’s on-board partners charge / try to charge for their cards. And in that case, the cheapest RTX 3080 12GB on the list this morning is the EVGA model priced at $ 1249. That’s $ 50 compared to the RTX 3080 Ti MSRP and $ 40 compared to their cheapest RTX 3080 Ti, but generally a few hundred below the rest of their RTX 3080 Ti line.

At best, it is fair to say that it is unlikely that the RTX 3080 12GB will have a much different price than the RTX 3080 Ti. Which shouldn’t be too surprising since much of the current crypto ecosystem is based on memory width, and the two cards are identical in that regard. Although even in the context of gaming, the RTX 3080 12GB will very likely be within a few percent of the RTX 3080 Ti. In other words, don’t expect to pay less than $ 1,200 for the RTX 3080 12GB, even if you can get it at manufacturer prices (as opposed to market prices). By the way, the more positive news, at least, is that even after the launch of the new card, according to NVIDIA, the RTX 3080 classic will not disappear; so it will continue to be produced for the consumer market.

Concluding things, expect to see cards from common suspects in the coming days and weeks, including EVGA, Zotac, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI. NVIDIA is not announcing a firm availability date, so given the current shortage of GPUs, we expect to see the cards slowly filter out to market and then leave it almost immediately. Happy hunting!

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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