The next generation of Nvidia Ampere RTX 3000 graphics cards could be revealed on August 31st if a new cryptic tweet from the GPU maker is anything to go by, as they've just started the #UltimateCountdown to something big in 21 days time. The tweet itself contains nothing but an ellipsis, the aforementioned hashtag and a short clip of a 'Big Bang' style explosion, but Nvidia's new Twitter header image for their GeForce account adds the phrase "21 days, 21 years," harking back to the original announcement date of their very first GeForce GPU - the GeForce 256 - on August 31st 1999.
I could be jumping the gun here, of course, as it's entirely possible Nvidia won't in fact reveal their line-up of next generation graphics cards in 21 days time, and it could all be an elaborate PR stunt for some kind of commemorative edition of that aforementioned GeForce 256 card.
However, given that we've been waiting months and months for Nvidia to finally lift the lid on their upcoming family of RTX 3000 graphics cards, most notably on what we're assuming are going to be called the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080, it seems more likely that they're trying to drum up some excitement for these rather than anything else.
— NVIDIA GeForce (@NVIDIAGeForce) August 10, 2020
Nvidia first unveiled their next-gen Ampere GPU architecture back in the middle of May at the online version of their GTC 2020 conference, but at the time they only talked about how their new 7nm GPUs would be utilised in data centres and things decidedly not related to gaming. We then got a potential glimpse of what Nvidia's RTX 3000 cards are going to look like at the beginning of June when a supposedly leaked RTX 3080 surfaced on the internet with a rather funky-looking fan design.
We've also seen plenty of leaked benchmarks crop up in 3DMark's TimeSpy benchmark recently, too, with initial figures suggesting the RTX 3080 will be up to 35% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti in that particular test. Indeed, just in the last week or so, the internet rumour mill seem to be convinced that Nvidia will be launching their next-gen cards on September 17th, with other lower-end RTX 3000 cards such as the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 to follow in October and November. As a result, it all seems very likely that whatever they're going to announce on August 31st will, in fact, be their RTX 3000 line-up rather than something else.
If true, it would also mean Nvidia will have once again got out in front of AMD's Big Navi launch, which at the moment is still due sometime before the end of the year. The current online whisperings suggest a November launch for the next generation of Big Navi cards, which are intended to be AMD's 4K competitors to Nvidia's flagship RTX cards, but AMD have yet to announce any concrete themselves.
In the past, AMD have always tended to play second fiddle to Nvidia when it comes to their high-end GPUs, despite often being significantly better value for money further down the GPU foodchain. Their hotly anticipated Radeon 7, for example, was almost as good as Nvidia's RTX 2080 when it came out at the start of 2019, but its high price and slightly slower performance meant Nvidia's card was the better buy overall. Since then, AMD haven't released another high-end graphics card as part of their current RX 5000 family to compete with Nvidia's RTX cards, and it's hoped that their Big Navi launch will finally bring some much-needed competition to the 4K gaming arena.
Still, until AMD set a date for their Big Navi extravaganza, all eyes will be on whatever Nvidia have got up their sleeve on August 31st.