Nvidia’s fastest next-gen GPU enters testing phase

September will mark two years since the initial release of Nvidia’s RTX 30 series. Although only a few weeks have passed since the launch of the most powerful and probably the last card in the line, the RTX 3090 TiEnthusiasts’ attention is on the upcoming RTX 40 series.

A new tweet from a trusted hardware leaker kopite7kimi states that the high-end AD102 GPU has entered the testing phase. This is the GPU that should power models like the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 (assuming that’s the naming scheme Nvidia uses).

If the card has actually entered testing, that’s a great sign that development is well advanced. Barring any unforeseen consequences, the GPU design is probably finished, which means the workcards and drivers are internal. That doesn’t mean the launch is imminent, though. Driver development takes time. There are all sorts of checks and milestones to pass before a driver can be considered ready for release.

It’s a good sign, though. Assuming yields are acceptable, attendance targets are being met, and there are no undiscovered errata yet, so the odds are good that the card is on track to launch in 2022.

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There have been some leaks about Nvidia’s next-generation Ada Lovelace GPUs, at least the main chip. The safest bet of all is that the cards will include 12+4-pin PCIe 5.0 power connectors which can supply up to 600W. add to that persistent rumors that high-end cards will use all that 600W, if not more, suggests that Nvidia is after performance at all costs.

The range is expected to be constructed using a 5nm TSMC node. That’s a big leap from the 8nm Samsung node used by the RTX 30 Ampere series of cards. Normally this would lead to improved power efficiency all other things being equal, but when you add in the higher power budget, higher transistor density, higher shader count, higher clocks, and architecture improvements, we should see an increase of quite dramatic performance. Well, I hope. We’ll have to wait a while to see real gaming benchmarks.

The cards will likely make use of 24 Gbps GDDR6X memory, which in itself will consume a not insignificant amount of power. Previous leaks suggest up to 18432 shaders compared to the 3090 Ti’s 10752. We can also expect increases in RT and tensor cores, leading to improved ray tracing and AI capabilities. In short, Ada Lovelace’s high quality cards are becoming monsters in every way. Will four-slot AIB cards become the new norm?

Nvidia is expected to be tight-lipped about anything to do with its unreleased products. But if the cards are truly in testing, a launch sometime in the second half of 2022 looks like an increasingly safe bet. Bring on the leaks.

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