It’s official: Nvidia Ampere is the architecture that the manufacturer’s next-generation GPUs are based on. Nvidia’s mysterious September 1 event launched its three shiny new GPUs – the RTX 3080, its flagship, RTX 3070, and the Titan-level RTX 3090 – and they’re all breathtaking.
After months of rumors and speculations – as well as a bit of doubt, as Nvidia Ampere was initially released mostly for data center devices with no GeForce in sight, just like Volta a few years ago – Nvidia has confirmed the first three GPUs in its latest RTX series, alongside other exciting announcements like Nvidia Broadcast and new 360Hz G-Sync displays. And, they’re all hitting the streets this fall.
It’s one of the most exciting Nvidia announcements in the mainstream market yet, with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang himself saying “To all my Pascal gaming friends, it is safe to upgrade now.” But, there’s certainly more to Nvidia Ampere than these GPUs.
The company has been putting in the hours on the A100 GPU, for what should hopefully be a 20x improvement in computing power. With the explosive growth in cloud computing, AI is increasingly integral and important. Whether it’s Amazon building grocery stores that enable instant purchasing when you throw something in your cart, or IoT devices littering your home, or even self-driving cars, more and more computing power is needed. 7nm Ampere architecture, as well as the 3rd generation Tensor Cores, are a huge part of that.
Any business needing such hefty computing power should be able to take advantage of the data center GPU, like the DGX A100 which is a rack of eight A100 GPUs costing $1 million. In fact, Google Compute Engine already has. It’s possible that Microsoft, Dell and Amazon have already bought in or will soon.
As for its RTX 3000 series GPUs, Nvidia is also bringing out the big guns, which isn’t surprising as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is probably the most anticipated piece of kit in the tech world at the moment. Ampere RTX, according to Jensen, will come with 30 Shader-TFLOPS, 58 RT-TFLOPS and 238 Tensor-TFLOPS, delivering twice the performance and energy efficiency of Turing.
We’re excited to take these first three RTX 3000 GPUs out for a spin, and see exactly what they’re made of. But, until then, we’ll update this page with more information as it becomes available so keep it bookmarked for the latest on Nvidia Ampere.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Nvidia’s 7nm next-generation GPU architecture
- When will it be available? Available right now for enterprise, starting September 17 for the RTX 3000 series
- What will it cost? Announced RTX GPUs start at $499 (£469, about AU$680)
Nvidia Ampere release date
The first wave of the highly-anticipated 3000-series graphics cards has just been launched at the Nvidia September 1 event, somewhat confirming recent rumor alleging that Nvidia will launch three new graphics cards in September.
The RTX 3000 flagship, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, is going to be available on September 17 to be followed by the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 on September 24. The RTX 3070, which is poised to replace the RTX 2080 Ti, is slated to be released sometime in October, though no official date has been announced.
With the next-generation consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X likely launching around November, we certainly expected Nvidia to launch its next-generation GeForce cards around the same time to capitalize on the next-gen gaming hype. Once the cards are actually out, water cooling should be available immediately for early adopters.
Nvidia Ampere price
The first three GPUs in the RTX 3000 series has just been announced, alongside their respective price tags, and we’re happy to report that two-thirds of them are priced competitively.
This is great news for consumers. These cards will be a hot commodity when they are released, so there’s definitely reason for Nvidia to price them even higher than Turing cards. Luckily, and perhaps thanks to AMD, that isn’t the case here.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, which is apparently twice as fast as the RTX 2080, Starts at $699 (£649, about AU$975) – that’s $100 less than the price of the RTX 2080 when it was first released. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, which apparently is going to be faster than the 2080 Ti, is coming in at just $499 (£469, about AU$680). So, compared to the previous generation, it looks like Nvidia is really coming after AMD in terms of rolling out powerful GPUs that are more accessible in pricing.
As for the RTX 3090, it is unfortunately poised in the premium range with a hefty price tag of $1,499 (£1,399, AU$2,100). Still, considering that Nvidia is calling this the greatest generational jump, and that it’s a triple slot card that’s capable of playing games at 8K, 60fps and is 30-degrees cooler than Titan RTX, it’s not a bad price.
Remember, the Titan RTX rolled out $2,499 (£2,399, AU$3,999), making the RTX 3090 a whopping $1,000 cheaper and only $300 more than the RTX 2080 Ti.
Nvidia Ampere specs
The Nvidia A100, which is also behind the DGX supercomputer is a 400W GPU, with 6,912 CUDA cores, 40GB of VRAM with 1.6TB/s of memory bandwidth. Needless to say, it’s kind of a behemoth – but it kind of has to be.
But, it’s even more powerful than it lets on. Nvidia is claiming that this GPU is a 20x jump in performance over the last generation, which makes it easy to understand why companies from Amazon Web Services to Microsoft are already jumping in on the action.
But what does that mean for GeForce? Kicking off the Ampere GeForce lineup is the RTX 3070, which will boast 20 Shader-TFLOPS, 40 RT-TFLOPS and 163 Tensor-TFLOPS, alongside 8GB of GDDR6 RAM – and it’s expected to be faster than the 2080 Ti. On the other hand, the RTX 3080, the flagship, will have 10GB of GDDR6X RAM, 30 Shader-TFLOPS, 58 RT-TFLOPS and 238 Tensor-TFLOPS. It will, according to Jensen, double the performance of the RTX 2080.
Finally, the RTX 3090 will have 36 Shader-TFLOPS, 69 RT-TFLOPS and 285 Tensor-TFLOPS, as well as 24GB GDDR6X RAM.
One speculation does point to the existence of a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, whose Asus model may have been leaked recently, having a massive 627mm² die. This further fuels rumors that Nvidia Ampere GeForce GPUs will be based on Samsung’s 8nm node, rather than the 7nm TSMC node that the pro-level Ampere chips are based on.
Other GeForce RTX 3000 cards have made an appearance in the rumor mill as well. Speculations that the RTX 3070 Ti will be built on the GA104-400, and up the ante to 3,072 CUDA cores and have GDDR6X memory support.
Either way, with the next generation of games pushing higher resolutions, and with more games with ray tracing hitting the market thanks to the new consoles, you can expect these next graphics cards to be incredibly powerful, especially if they have to go up against AMD RDNA 2 or “Big Navi” cards.
Nvidia Ampere performance
One of the most exciting parts about watching the world of PC components is keeping up with all the (probably fake) leaked benchmarks. And, because the thirst for new Nvidia graphics cards is super high right now, it seems like everyone is coming out of the woodwork to show off what the next graphics cards can apparently do.
The latest of these leaked benchmarks comes courtesy of hardware leaker _rogame and shows an “unknown Nvidia Ampere GPU” managing a score of 18,257 in 3DMark Time Spy. To put that in perspective, in our initial RTX 2080 Ti review, Nvidia’s current-gen flagship managed 12,123 points. That’s a 44% jump in performance – nothing to shake a stick at.
Earlier rumors even pointed to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 being up to 40% faster than the 2080 Ti. The official word from Nvidia, however, is that it’s going to have twice the performance of the RTX 2080, while the RTX 3070 is going to be a slight improvement over the 2080 Ti, which is still saying a lot as this was the unbeatable mainstream GPU.
No matter how you slice it, it seems like we’re going to see a much greater jump in performance than we saw when Nvidia Turing followed Pascal in 2018 – and we’re excited to get our hands on these cards.
What we want to see
Since we know some of the broad strokes of what Nvidia’s Ampere architecture can do, here’s what we’d really like to see once the new lineup of graphics cards is released.
Keep launch prices in line with those of previous-generation GPUs
While nobody is out here begging a tech company to charge them more money for a product, the rate of price inflation in the GPU market has been ridiculous for some time now, especially the Nvidia GeForce 2080 Ti. Yes, demand is the driving force behind these price increases, but your market position is only tenable as long as your competition is putting out a noticeably inferior product. That is increasingly no longer the case.
AMD Radeon graphics cards have offered more than enough power for most users for a while now and typically do so at a much lower price than Nvidia does. Sure, they may not come with the latest ray-tracing technology like Nvidia’s latest cards do, but if we can’t afford a card with ray tracing anyway, going with AMD looks increasingly like the sensible choice for many consumers.
Continue to improve on ray tracing’s potential
With the advance from DLSS 1.0 to 2.0, ray tracing made a huge leap in terms of framerate performance and other important benchmarks for the technology, but it still isn’t the kind of tech you could run consistently and get great framerates with, even with some high-performance hardware supporting it.
It would be great to see another jump of a similar scale from DLSS 2.0 to 3.0 so that ray-tracing might become a standard feature players will actually use regularly in games. It’d be a major missed opportunity for Nvidia not to go all-in on this tech since ray-tracing is one of the biggest appeals of a flagship GeForce card right now, especially since it’s something that AMD is only set to offer on some of its high-end GPUs later this year.
More than anything, we would love to see Nvidia Ampere continue moving the technology forward if for no other reason than to pressure AMD to move more quickly toward democratizing ray tracing supported graphics cards. Nothing like a bit of cutthroat competition to help move the state of the art along.
Offer Ray Tracing across the product stack
With Nvidia Turing, Ray Tracing was this revolutionary technology, and was genuinely worth the high price to be on the cutting edge. However, if you wanted in, you would have to opt for at least the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. Some of the most popular graphics cards in that lineup, like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, didn’t have the RT cores enabled, which meant hardware-accelerated ray tracing was out of reach for a large portion of the audience.
With Nvidia Ampere, if Ampere is even the architecture behind the next GeForce cards, we would love to see RT and Tensor cores enabled all the way down the product stack, so even budget users can get in on the ray tracing goodness – even if they have to set ray tracing to low at 1080p.