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AMD RX 6900 XT

The fate of Nvidia’s RTX and rise of AMD Leave a comment

AMD Radeon RX 6000-series

(Image credit: AMD)

Last year Nvidia was so concerned about the potential of AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT that it was prepared to not only nerf the sales of its GeForce RTX 3090 with a 20GB GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, but it was prepared to sacrifice fully-functional GA102 GPUs to do so.

Luckily for Jen-Hsun, and those poor sacrificial GA102 lambs, the Radeon RX 6900 XT was a bit of a comparative triple-fan silicon dud, so Nvidia quickly killed all those initial RTX 3080 Ti plans. It is now seemingly dropping those GPUs into proper RTX 3090 cards, and one such chip has appeared under the cooler of a card a HardwareLuxx community member has picked up.

That suggests the original Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti was so close to retail the green team had all the new, slightly cut-down GA102 GPUs freshly minted with ‘GA-102-250’ stamped on them. But what’s a graphics card maker to do when it turns out they don’t need to hack apart fully functional chips to deal with a powerful rival? Literally, cross the old name out and stick those chips back under a GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition shroud, make a bunch more cash, and hope nobody notices.

There were plenty of rumours about the 20GB version of the RTX 3080 Ti just after the launch of the first RTX 30-series cards. At the time it seemed odd that Nvidia might take such a step given that it would inevitably cannibalise most of the sales of its RTX 3090, but that just shows how worried team GeForce was about the promised RX 6900 XT.

We spoke with graphics card manufacturers last year who expressed surprise to have the 20GB card pulled from the lists at such a late stage, but I didn’t realise quite how close the cards were to release. They were, essentially, ready to go into boards, boxed up, and shipped.

To be this far down the road to a new graphics card release, only to turn around and shut the whole line down, seems pretty unprecedented to me. But if Nvidia knew that it could repurpose those GPUs to go back into the RTX 3090 then it was obvious it wouldn’t be losing out.

The GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is reportedly back, however, with a rumoured launch in May this year, but with a different sliced-up GPU (reportedly GA-102-225), fewer cores, and much less graphics memory. It will be a different launch this time around, though, as it’s not necessarily going to have an AMD card in its sights, and the RTX 3090 has now had its time basking in the sun.

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The Rise of AMD

Previous rumors had been circling that suggested the mobile AMD Radeon offerings would be fairly beastly, and new information provided by APISAK suggests the RX 6800M will come with 12GB of VRAM on a 192-bit bus.

Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to be a slimmed-down GPU either, with 40 compute units (CUs) suggesting you’re getting the full power of Navi 22. The Nvidia mobile GPUs don’t perform as well as their desktop namesakes, so an RTX 3070 mobile won’t be kicking out the same performance or power as the desktop RTX 3070 card.

This isn’t to say the unreleased AMD Radeon mobile cards will be running at the same levels as the desktop variants, but the idea of a full-fat Navi 22 GPU inside a laptop is certainly an exciting prospect. As will all leaks and unofficial information, don’t take any of this as gospel until we hear it directly from the mouth of Team Red.

Painting the town red

The mobile GPUs for the Radeon 6000 series have yet to be officially revealed, which has given Nvidia a comfortable lead in gaming laptop sales. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 series was introduced for laptops back on January 26, after the RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080 mobile cards were announced at CES 2021. In fact, over 70 devices were available at launch with the latest Ampere-powered graphics.

With any luck, a fresh injection of gaming laptops will help more gamers get their hands on the latest hardware. The ongoing shortage of silicon and the increasing popularity of crypto mining has resulted in many graphics cards being completely unobtainable for anyone not using bots to buy up inventory.

Laptops are sadly not immune from any of these complications of course, as we have no idea how many products will be available with the new Radeon 6000 series mobile hardware at launch, and the continuing Etherium boom has meant not even gaming laptops are safe from being put to work in farming rigs.

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