New GPU Launches: RTX 3000, AMD RDNA2 and Zen3

CG Director Author Jerry James  by Jerry James   ⋮   ⋮   19 comments
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New GPU Launches: RTX 3000, AMD RDNA2 and Zen3

Nvidia’s announcement about the RTX 30-series of Ampere GPUs will interest gamers and creators alike. While Jensen Huang delivered quite a presentation on the 1st of September, we’re still waiting on performance numbers from independent testing before we know whether you should invest in the latest offerings from Nvidia.

Our audience has been asking us about the new releases, and many are impatiently waiting for the new GPUs to drop so they can complete their workstation builds.

Before the numbers are out, we’ll take a quick look at the products being launched, their technical specifications, and release dates. That’s not all. AMD has something up their sleeves too, and we’ll share information we have on those releases as well.

Nvidia RTX 30-series (RTX3000) Graphics Cards: A New Generation of GPUs

While Ampere for the data center launched in May 2020, Nvidia announced more news on gaming graphics only during their reveal event this month. Here’s a gist of the event:

  • 3 Graphics Cards announced: RTX 3090, RTX 3080, RTX 3070.
  • 24GB GDDR6X VRAM in the RTX 3090: Targeted at Creators and 3D Artists.
  • Nvidia Broadcast for Streamers and Video Conferencing: Microphone noise removal, virtual backgrounds without green screens, and webcam auto-framing and focus. Compatible with popular streaming and conferencing software.
  • Nvidia Reflex: Reduces latency in games by up to 50ms by optimizing the rendering pipeline.
  • Nvidia Omniverse Machinima: Import assets from supported games or third-party asset libraries, then automatically animate characters using an AI-based pose estimator and footage from your webcam.
  • Reportedly up to 2x improvement in rendering performance compared to an RTX 2080 Super:

Chart showing relative performance of GeForce 30 Series GPUs run on creative applications.

  • 5x faster motion blur rendering compared to 20-series for RT-accelerated applications like Blender Cycles.

Please note that the above information was released by Nvidia and hasn’t been tested by us yet. Watch out for our review article once we get a chance to test the new-gen GPUs on various render engines and CG applications.

RTX 3000 Technical Specifications: A Closer Look at the New Ampere GPUs

 RTX 3090RTX 3080RTX 3070RTX 2080 Ti
Announced Launch Pricing (USD)$1499$699$499$999
Launch Date24th September, 202017th September, 2020October 202020th September 2018
CUDA Cores10496870458884352
Base Clock1.401.441.501.35
Boost Clock1.71.711.731.545
Memory Clock 19.5Gbps GDDR6X19Gbps GDDR6X16Gbps GDDR614Gbps GDDR6
Memory Bus Width384-bit320-bit256-bit352-bit
VRAM24GB10GB8GB11GB
Single Precision Performance* 35.7 TFLOPs*29.8 TFLOPs*20.4 TFLOPs*13.4 TFLOPs
Tensor Performance285 TFLOPs238 TFLOPs163 TFLOPs114 TFLOPs
Ray Tracing Performance69 TFLOPs58 TFLOPs40 TFLOPs-
TDP350W320W220W250W
PCI-E GenerationPCI-E 4.0PCI-E 4.0PCI-E 4.0PCI-E 3.0
ArchitectureAmpereAmpereAmpereTuring
Manufacturing Process NodeCustom Samsung 8nm (8N)Custom Samsung 8nm (8N)Custom Samsung 8nm (8N)TSMC 12nm FinFET

Addressing the Specifications: All Cores aren’t Equal

Going from 4352 CUDA cores on the RTX 2080 Ti to 10496 CUDA cores on the RTX 3090 seems like an insane generational jump. Similarly, if you look at single-precision performance, you see a massive jump from 13.4 TFLOPs on the RTX 2080 Ti to 35.7 TFLOPs on the RTX 3090.

Too good to be true? Yes.

With Ampere, Nvidia has fundamentally changed how the CUDA cores work – making a raw spec comparison between 20-series and 30-series quite misleading.

To understand what’s happening here, we’ll need to take a step back from Ampere and take a look at Turing (20-series).

Nvidia GPUs rely on FP32 and INT32 computations to deliver performance, and every CUDA core houses a certain number of these computation units. With Turing, Nvidia added concurrent FP32 and INT operations on each SM (Streaming Multiprocessor)/CUDA. So, in simple terms, you could say Turing computes were handled as FP32 + INT

However, with Ampere, this has changed. One set of CUDA cores now handle FP32 or INT instructions, while the other group only handles FP32. The problem? Now, it means you can handle only FP32 + (FP32 or INT).

While this dramatically increases the theoretical compute performance (TFLOPs), it’s nowhere close to the performance uplift you’ll get, practically speaking.

That said, you should still see a relatively better uplift with rendering engines as INT calculations are fewer compared to many games.

Unfortunately, it looks like Nvidia was very conscious of this fact, which is why they’ve kneecapped the RTX 3070 from a memory standpoint (lower bandwidth coupled with lower GDDR6 VRAM). Professionals getting access to a $500 graphics card that handily outperforms (potentially) the RTX 2080Ti in rendering might not be the best business strategy. At least that’s what it seems like to me.

We can’t know for sure until we get a chance to test them out.

Power Draw: More Power, More Performance

Although we do see a performance uplift with the Ampere GPUs, the uplift seems to have come at the cost of power draw. While the last generation RTX 2080 Ti was rated at 250W, the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 are rated at 320W and 350W, respectively. Not exactly ideal for most extended rendering scenarios.

What’s more, the new Founders Edition models sold by Nvidia come with a new 12-pin power connector. Thankfully, Nvidia will be bundling an adapter with every GPU. It doesn’t look pleasant, but well, that’s what we have.

Availability

The pricing seems so attractive that I’m expecting the new Nvidia Ampere GPUs to sell out almost immediately after launch. We’ll likely see an influx of overpriced cards on the market. If you do miss out on buying one (if you’ve seen the reviews and decided it’s worth the price), I’d recommend waiting for a couple of months for stocks to stabilize.

Triple Slot Card, No Blower: The RTX 3090 For CG Professionals

The Founders edition card seems squarely aimed at gamers this time around.

Nvidia has avoided including images that make the card’s thickness apparent on the official website. Here’s an image that makes the size and width difference more pronounced.

A triple-slot GPU will make multi-GPU setups quite problematic, and the Founders card seems like the wrong purchase for CG professionals who want to populate two or more of these cards on their render nodes.

ASUS’ Turbo blower models are in the works, and those might be way better for our use-case.

Review Embargo Lift

The Ampere GPU reviews will start filtering in when the review embargo lifts. While some reports say September 14th, others tell us the date has been pushed back to September 16th.

AMD October: 2 Events, 2 Major Launches

AMD announced two launch events, one for AMD Radeon GPUs and one for AMD Ryzen CPUs on October 28th and October 8th, respectively.

Here are links to their official tweets – Radeon RDNA 2 || Ryzen Zen 3

The launch of Zen 3 (supposedly called Ryzen 5000, this time) will reportedly feature a decent IPC improvement over Ryzen 3000. A welcome improvement for 3D viewports and CPU-rendering applications. We’re incredibly excited to see how the new generation of Threadripper processors performs!

Now, the big question. When it comes to GPUs, should you care what AMD has to offer? The fact that support for AMD is missing from so many popular render engines that rely solely on CUDA is unfortunate.

Redshift and Octane have had an FAQ section with the following for close to two years now.

Source – Redshift Official Website

 

Source – Otoy Official Website

Will the October 28th RDNA 2 launch bring AMD support to both these render engines? I’m not too sure. I sincerely hope there’s an announcement that gives CG professionals more choice in the GPU market. As of now, Nvidia seems to be the only option we have for those using popular rendering engines.

Do watch out for our article about RTX 3000 benchmarks and analysis for CG workloads!

Are you excited about the RTX 3080 or 3090? Which one do you plan to buy? Leave a comment below and let us know. I’ll be happy to answer any questions if you aren’t sure about power supplies and/compatibility.

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Jerry James - post author

Hi, I’m Jerry – a Freelance Technical Content Writer and Strategist.
I’ve been building PCs for the past 15 years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Feel free to comment and ask for my inputs on your PC builds; I’ll do my best to help out!

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Comments
Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

patfish

For CG take the 3090 if you have the money or wait until a 3070ti or 3080ti with 16GB or 20GB arrives next year.

janardhanan V

Hi Jerry,
My current setup is

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

Galax RTX 2060 Super

80+Gold SEMI ANTEC EA 650W

Cooler Master MASTERBOX MB511 RGB

Corsair DDR 4 2*16 GB RAM 3000 Mhz

WD Green 240GB SSD

WD 1tb HDD 7200 RPM.

My primary use case Sketch up for modelling and For rendering
I use Vray and enscape primarily
And lumion and twinmotion occasionally

Now I am planning on doing more walkthroughs

My question is.
1. I still feel active working performance is slow. How do I make it even more snappier. What should I do to increase the speed in active working.

2. Should I sell my 2060super and buy any of these new 30 series cards if so which one. Can I run 3080 with this 650w psu.

3. I am thinking of trying to buy this 3080 card tomorrow. As your article says founders edition is not for creators and focused mainly on gamers. Should I wait for a different card.

John

Hi Jerry, really enjoyed the post. I’m a light gamer and going into college studying engineering (maybe Mechanical or Electrical/Computer). I was wondering if you could give me some comments for my build?

I have the following already:
Ryzen 7 3800XT
1TB M.2 Samsung SSD
650 Watt Corsair PSU
16gb of Vengence RAM
NZXT H500 Black Case

I still need a Graphics Card to finish it off and I’m planning on buying a B550M Aorus Pro Motherboard from Gigabyte.

What GPU would you recommend? I was looking at a 2060 Super Windforce from EVGA. Will this GPU be too gaming and not good for CAD/Solid Works or coding? (PS. Should I wait for Nividia’s 30 series GPU’s in my situation? I feel like 20 series GPUs are good enough for me and hopefully the prices will go down since the 30 series comes out)
What do you think about the mobo?
Do I have enough RAM and enough PSU wattage for my rig?
How can I make it my rig more future proof? (I’m willing to sell the current parts and buy better ones.)

Thank you in advance.

nomad

I’m starting to do a lot of residential architectural rendering with Lumion and considering Unreal Engine, but I’m quite torn as to whether the 3080’s 10gb Vram is adequate, or do I bit the bullet, and jump up to the 24gb Vram of the 3090. My current card is only 4gb and desperately needs to be upgraded for my workflow. Any indications of what my architectural (small structure) would appreciate?