NVIDIA’s Ampere GPU Likely Delayed To Q4 2020, And It’s Not Just Because Of Coronavirus


The legendary user AquariusZi has just posted on the PC_Shopping forums that he has learned that the RTX 3000 Series (powered by the Ampere GPU) will not be landing till Q4 2020. While this decision is obviously impacted by the Coronavirus which has pretty much halted the global economy, a major part of this decision is NVIDIA's desire to wait and see how AMD's Big Navi will perform - which it expects to see before Q4 2020 (good news for AMD fans?). Keep in mind however that while AquariusZi has been very reliable in the past, the situation with COVID-19 could change suddenly and unexpectedly, so I will be marking this as a rumor.

NVIDIA RTX 3000 series powered by Ampere GPU delayed to late 2020, COVID-19 economic slowdown and AMD's Big Navi primary factors

NVIDIA clearly had something juicy planned for GTC. That much is obvious from the fact that they tried every trick in the book to save it. First they attempted to enhance security procedures at the event and refused to cancel it. Then they moved it to an online show. The attempt to turn it into a news-only event didn't work out either (you can't really build hype that way) and now we have just the usual GTC stuff that will be live-streamed.

Their decision it seems had a lot to do with how the Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the global economy and trade. We are pretty much on the cusp of a recession and the vaccine is almost a year away by conservative estimates. NVIDIA, sensing that demand for high-end GPUs is going down with the flailing economy made the business decision to delay the announcement.

That said, there is another big reason as AquiariusZi points out in this post. NVIDIA wants to wait and see what AMD's Big Navi can do. The Xbox specs reveal raised quite a few eyebrows and will almost certainly send NVIDIA back to the drawing board. You can't really sell flagships worth $699 that are just slightly faster than a console (assuming its priced at around $499). This also means that AMD's Big Navi is going to be priced with similar strength and value and the company would do well to wait for that release. Their current GPUs already have the performance crown and there is no reason for NVIDIA to push forward with a launch (having to cut prices later hurts their partners) and instead will wait for AMD to make a move.

The good news here is that almost all evidence points to AMD finally rolling out its anxiously anticipated Big Navi GPU - something gamers have been waiting for a very long time. Packed to the brim with features and based on the brand new RDNA architecture, the GPU wars might be back on after a respite of a couple of years.

Rumored specs of the Ampere GPU and NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti flagship

NVIDIA's upcoming Ampere GPUs have been the subject of their fair share of hype and anticipation. If this particular rumor is to be believed, however, NVIDIA's flagship GPU will have a massive 826mm² die. While the process node was not mentioned, a die this large does slightly increase the probability of it being an older, more mature node like the 12NFF. Depending on how mature TSMC 7nm is, an 826mm² large die isn't totally out of the question for limited quantity runs as well. Previous leaks have pointed out that the company is going to shift to 7nm with Ampere, so I would assume that this entire architecture is based on 7nm for the duration of the article.

An 826mm² die on 7nm would be absolutely enormous and insanely dense. This wouldn't be entirely uncharacteristic of NVIDIA considering the company has pushed the power and thermal envelopes before with their high-end parts (that usually end up in workstations and rarely the TITAN series). A GPU of this magnitude would easily decimate anything AMD has planned for the remainder of 2020 considering we haven't heard of anything that could match this.

NVIDIA Ampere GPUs will have 2x faster RTX and a re-engineered Tensor core

Here is where things get interesting, however, the rumor includes a block diagram (made by KittyCorgi, I assume) which indicates improvements in the architecture and NVIDIA doubling down on their RTX strategy. The last part isn't particularly surprising as the RTX portion on Turing was relatively tiny and limited the scale of application for RTX games.

Here is the list of improvements suggested by the rumor:

  • INT32 Unit remains unchanged.
  • Double the FP32 Unit for shader proportion.
  • The performance of the new Tensor Core is doubled.
  • Enhanced L1 Data Cache for more comprehensive functions.
  • True architecture for RTX GAMING with all-new design RT CORE ADVANCED.

The last bit is something that sounds straight out of NVIDIA marketing material and is something that makes me think that this just might turn out to be true. RT Core Advanced is also a very plausible naming scheme coming from what appears to be a non-native English speaker. Consider me intrigued at the very least although I would still advise copious amounts of salt to go with this.

NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti 'GA103' GPU will have 60 SMs and 320-bit 10GB/20GB Graphics Memory

The rumor doesn't end there, the tweeter has also made block diagrams of the GA103 and GA104 GPUs - which would be the graphics processors that the mainstream client will actually get after launch. These are the parts that a gamer will be able to buy without going completely bankrupt. For the higher end GA103 part, which will end up being the RTX 3080 Ti or whatever NV decides to call it, you are looking at 60 SMs for a total of 3840 CUDA cores assuming the old proportion or 7680 CUDA cores assuming a new 128 cores per SM ratio (thanks for the flag, Boro and PCMasterRace!). For reference, the RTX 2080 Ti has 72 SMs with 4608 CUDA Cores.

Coupled with the doubled RTX core performance (and the resulting increase in DLSS throughput) you are easily looking at real-world performance increase in the range of 50% over Turing. If NVIDIA shifts to a 7nm process, they would be able to manage all this while staying well within acceptable power thresholds. The GA103 Ampere GPU will be coupled with 10GB/20GB vRAM.

NVIDIA RTX 3080 'GA104' GPU will have 48 SMs and 256-bit 8GB/16GB Graphics Memory

Up next, you have the GA104 GPU, which should end up in the RTX 2080 replacement (the RTX 3080?) with 48 SMs (3072 CUDA cores based on old proportion, 6144 new). This is very slightly more than the RTX 2080 at 46 SMs. Coupled with higher performance throughput and the doubled RTX cores you are once again looking at significant performance increases if this turns out to be true. According to the rumor, the RTX 3080 GPU will be coupled with 8GB/16GB of vRAM and a 256-bit bus width.

While I don't know if this rumor has any truth to it (as a gamer, I wish it to), it does make for a very interesting read with a cup of tea. One thing is for sure, the hype for NVIDIA's Ampere GPU is at an all-time high and everything points to the company getting ready to launch those at GTC 2020 this year with Jensen personally inviting the press to attend.