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Nvidia: RTX 3080 and 3090 Shortages Likely to Persist Into 2021

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For all the strengths of Ampere as a GPU, it’s going to be difficult to get your hands on this holiday season. That’s according to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, who claims his company has been hit by a double whammy.

I believe that demand will outstrip all of our supply through the year. Remember, we’re also going into the double-whammy. The double-whammy is the holiday season. Even before the holiday season, we were doing incredibly well, and then you add on top of it the Ampere factor, and then you add on top of that the Ampere holiday factor, and we’re going to have a really really big Q4 season.

Jensen also reiterated that the problem with Ampere was overwhelming demand, not an issue of supply. So many people apparently want the cards, it’s impossible to keep them on store shelves. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was part of the reason because Turing uptake has been quite low. A lot of gamers are back on 10xx GPUs, and the RTX 30xx family look like great upgrades relative to those cards. Could Ampere demand be the entire reason stocks are so hard to come by? It could be — but I suspect it isn’t the entire explanation.

First, we know bots were a problem at the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 launches, and it’s not as if those users are going to have quit using them in the intervening period. Every retailer who isn’t running effective bot detection is going to be a problem.

Second, according to semiconductor analyst Daniel Nenni, Samsung’s 8nm yields are anything but good. In an August 30 podcast, Nenni said: “Samsung has had yield problems – serious, serious yield problems – throughout their history because they were first to a node, but TSMC is always first to high volume manufacturing, so you really have to separate the two.”

This does not automatically mean that Samsung’s 8nm is a low-yielding node, but there have certainly been questions about what yields look like, and no clear answers yet. Samsung has struggled to land major customers other than its own business for more recent advanced nodes. IBM and Nvidia are both fairly recent announcements, especially Nvidia’s high-end manufacturing.

Ampere Availability Could Make AMD’s Big Navi More Attractive

I really appreciate Jen-Hsun being honest about the limited supply of Ampere. It’s more common for companies to say nothing and leave us wondering when, exactly, GPU prices will start coming down from the stratosphere.

It is unlikely that scalpers will have allowed RTX 3080 and 3090 GPU prices to settle down in 30-60 days if supply remains limited relative to demand. If Nvidia truly delayed the RTX 3070 to build inventory, your best chance of getting one may be the moment they go on sale. After that, it could be catch-as-catch-can.

The big question now is: “Will AMD have a similar problem?” If RDNA2 and Ampere are relatively well-matched and one of them is $ 500 theoretically and $ 800 practically, that’s going to impact people’s buying decisions. AMD probably wins some sales based on Nvidia’s difficulty supplying the market, if prices on Nvidia GPUs stay inflated. Alternately, it’s possible that RDNA2 will get hit by exactly the same wave of bots or upgrade demand. It won’t really matter how RDNA2 compares with Ampere if both of them are impossible to find, and the reason won’t really matter to customers who don’t get to buy one.

Either way, I wouldn’t necessarily pin your hopes on a new GPU this Christmas.

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