If you're planning on upgrading your graphics card to one of the new Nvidia Ampere RTX 3000 cards over the next couple of months you might find it rather difficult to get hold of one until early next year. According to a new report from Tweaktown, industry sources have said the first wave of RTX 3080, RTX 3090 and RTX 3070 GPUs will be much smaller than Nvidia's previous launches, and that post-launch "no stock will be available till the end of the year."
No reason was given for the low stock levels of Nvidia's next-gen graphics cards, but a separate source has apparently told Tweaktown that it could have something to do with Samsung's 8nm yields, which form the basis of Nvidia's RTX 3000 series GPUs.
When hardware manufacturers make their big silicon wafers, for example, there's always a certain percentage of them that aren't fit for their intended final product. They either fail internal tests or just aren't up to snuff to sell them as the thing they were intended for. If yields are high, the percentage of these 'binned' chips is low, but if yields aren't great, then there aren't as many successful chips to put into the final product.
At the moment, Samsung's yields are unknown, according to Tweaktown, and so it's possible that Nvidia won't want to go full steam ahead until yields improve - otherwise those rather tantalising prices they unveiled on Tuesday could start to shoot upwards pretty fast.
Another source told Tweaktown it could be a result of AMD's 'Big Navi' GPUs. These second generation Big Navi cards are also due by the end of the year, and from what we've seen so far are fully intended to be AMD's big play into the high-end 4K graphics card segment to take on Nvidia's new flagships. It could be a 'wait and see' situation, as Nvidia had a bad habit of trying to gazump AMD's previous Navi launch last year, releasing their RTX Super GPUs a week before AMD's RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. In the end, AMD had the last laugh, as they then lowered their prices to combat Nvidia's launch tactics - and they're still much better value cards overall, in my eyes.
At the moment, the RTX 3080 is set to cost £649 / $699 when it arrives first on September 17th, with the RTX 3090 following on September 24th for a whopping £1399 / $1499. The RTX 3070 will then arrive sometime in October for £469 / $499, although quite when is currently unknown. Maybe toward the end of the month, if these potential stock shortages have anything to do with it, but I'll keep you updated as soon as I know more.