Nvidia up the Ampere-age with GeForce RTX 3000 series graphics cards

PC Gamers across the world are measuring the available space in their towers – and the funds in their bank accounts – following the launch of the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 series of graphics cards.

Nvidia say the GeForce RTX 3070, 3080 and 3090 GPUs, running Ampere architecture, offer up to twice the performance and 1.9x the power efficiency over the previous Turing-based 2000-series graphics card. The 3090 will be capable of 8K gaming, featuring an insane 24GB of RAM – which is more than most PCs (including mine) have as system RAM.

This impressive performance comes at a cost, but not nearly as bad as many were expecting – Nvidia have confirmed the RTX 3090 will launch on September 24th with an RRP of AUD$2,429 while the RTX 3080 will launch a week earlier on September 17th with an RRP of AUD$1,139. The third card in the series, the RTX 3070, will launch in October with an RRP of AUD$809.

Besides being more powerful than the 2000 series cards, the 3000 series is also noticeably larger, which could be fun for gamers with crowded cases looking to upgrade.

The new cards were unveiled during a virtual launch event earlier today (Wednesday) by Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang.

Some of the other features the new 3000 series will sport include Nvidia Reflex, designed to reduce latency for competitive games; Nvidia Omniverse Machinima, enabling computer game graphic engines to be used for making machinima content; and Nvidia Broadcast, which harnesses AI to turn any room into a home broadcast studio.

“Today’s launch of Nvidia Ampere GPUs is a giant step into the future,” Mr Huang said.

“The work of thousands of engineering years, the GeForce RTX 30 Series delivers our greatest generational leap ever. Nvidia RTX fuses programmable shading, ray tracing and AI for developers to create entirely new worlds.

“Twenty years from now, we’ll look back and realise that the future of gaming started here.”

The RTX 3000 series is not a small card, but packs quite a punch.

Rather than re-writing the technical information from the official media announcement, I’ve quoted it directly below:

Enabling the blistering performance of the new RTX 30 Series GPUs and the Nvidia Ampere architecture are cutting-edge technologies and over two decades of graphics R&D, including:

  • New streaming multiprocessors: The building block for the world’s fastest, most efficient GPU, delivering 2x the FP32 throughput of the previous generation, and 30 Shader-TFLOPS of processing power.
  • Second-gen RT Cores: New dedicated RT Cores deliver 2x the throughput of the previous generation, plus concurrent ray tracing and shading and compute, with 58 RT-TFLOPS of processing power.
  • Third-gen Tensor Cores: New dedicated Tensor Cores, with up to 2x the throughput of the previous generation, making it faster and more efficient to run AI-powered technologies, like Nvidia DLSS, and 238 Tensor-TFLOPS of processing power.
  • Nvidia RTX IO: Enables rapid GPU-based loading and game asset decompression, accelerating input/output performance by up to 100x compared with hard drives and traditional storage APIs. In conjunction with Microsoft’s new DirectStorage for Windows API, RTX IO offloads dozens of CPU cores’ worth of work to the RTX GPU, improving frame rates and enabling near-instantaneous game loading.
  • World’s fastest graphics memory: Nvidia has worked with Micron to create the world’s fastest discrete graphics memory for the RTX 30 Series, GDDR6X. It provides data speeds of close to 1TB/s system memory bandwidth for graphics card applications, maximising game and app performance.
  • Next-gen process technology: New 8N Nvidia custom process from Samsung, which allows for higher transistor density and more efficiency.
The Ampere-based cards come with a range of functions beyond making your games look nice, too.

New Ways to Play
Nvidia also announced three new technologies designed for enhancing the experiences of gamers, broadcasters, e-sports professionals and creators:

  • Nvidia Reflex: Become Instantly More Competitive. Gamers strive for the lowest possible latency in competitive games because it allows the PC to respond faster to their inputs, enabling them to play with greater precision. Nvidia Reflex is a new suite of technologies that optimise and measure system latency. Among these are Nvidia Reflex Low-Latency Mode, a technology being integrated into popular e-sports games such as Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite and Valorant that reduces latency by up to 50 percent, and Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyser, which detects input coming from the mouse and then measures the time it takes for the resulting pixels (for example, a gun muzzle flash) to change on screen. Reflex Latency Analyser is integrated into new 360Hz Nvidia G-SYNC® Esports displays arriving this fall from Acer, Alienware, ASUS and MSI and supported by top esports peripherals from ASUS, Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries. Measuring system latency has previously been virtually impossible for gamers to do, requiring over $7,000 in specialised high-speed cameras and equipment.
  • Nvidia Broadcast: Stream Like a Pro. The world’s 20 million live streamers can turn their home into a broadcast studio with Nvidia Broadcast, a universal plugin that enhances the quality of microphones and webcams with RTX-accelerated AI effects, such as audio noise removal, virtual background effects and webcam auto frame.
  • Nvidia Omniverse Machinima: Enriching a New Art Form. Modern gaming continues to extend the storytelling art genre, in which game assets are used to create cinematic masterpieces. Omniverse Machinima makes such work easy, providing a path-traced viewer tool and engine designed for physical accuracy, simulating light, physics, materials and AI. Users can take assets from supported games, and use their web camera and AI to create characters, add high-fidelity physics and face and voice animation, and publish film-quality cinematics using the rendering power of their RTX 30 Series GPU. Sign up for notification when early access opens.
The RTX 3070 is expected in October.

As a card-carrying PC Gaming enthusiast I’m very excited about the new series of cards, and in particular the fact the 3070 and 3080 cards don’t cost absolutely ridiculous sums of money considering the tech involved. I’ve been running a Founder’s Edition Nvidia RTX2060 and been really impressed with it – Raytracing is, like HDR, one of those things that makes a massive difference to a gaming experience in ways that are hard to appreciate until you’ve experienced it.

Given the not insane prices on the cards, it also seems likely there’ll be a lot of RTX 2080s on the market in the next couple of months too, giving budget-conscious gamers the chance to level up their existing card for a fraction of the 2080’s current cost.

Given the significant milestone the new RTX 3000 cards represent, I’m hoping I can obtain a review unit from Nvidia to get some hands-on time with the new Ampere-based 3000 series cards soon.

Given the huge releases coming later this year (Cyberpunk 2077, anyone?) the timing on these is perfect and there’s going to be a lot of interest in them – especially as we pivot to the Next Generation of gaming with the upcoming console releases.