September will mark two years since NVIDIA launched its Ampere lineup with the RTX 3090 leading the pack. While impressive from a technical standpoint, the generation was mired in availability issues and ridiculous price markups. These are finally going away, just in time for the RTX 4090 to drop.
What do we know about the 4090? Not that much as of yet, but enough to whet the appetites of enthusiast gamers and serious creators alike!! We’ve compiled all credible rumors & leaks in one place so it’s easier for you to keep up.
GPU manufacturers try to keep their cards’ tech specs under wraps until pre-launch events, so next to nothing about the 4090 RTX is known officially. The only two bits of information we don’t need the rumor mill for is that the generation’s microarchitecture is called Ada Lovelace and is based on TSMC’s 5nm production process.
Luckily, several leakers have shed some light on a handful of specifics. Here’s a table comparing the RTX 3090 with what’s speculated about its successor for a better overview:
|RTX 3090||RTX 4090|
|Manufacturing process||Samsung 8nm||TSMC 5nm|
|Memory||24GB GDDR6X||24GB GDDR6X|
|TFLOPs||35.6||Up to 90|
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with the new die. Moving to 5nm is sure to significantly bump the transistor count up from the 3090’s 28 million. No one has suggested by how much yet, though.
The increases to base & boost clocks are even more indicative of a large expected performance bump. Initial leaks claimed that the boost clock would go up to 2500MHz, which credible leakers Greymon55 and Kopite7kimi later revised to around 2750MHz. That’s more than a 1000MHz increase for the Founder’s Edition alone, not counting what board partners will come up with. Could we see the ROG or FTW models breach the 3GHz mark?
Then there’s the matter of CUDA cores. Kopite7kimi’s original estimate was 16,128, revised to 16,384. Whichever turns out to be true, the 60% upgrade is a strong indicator of excellent performance.
The cache info came about as the result of a data breach, though we can’t be sure it’s credible. If it is, it would be one of the most interesting tidbits we know. The fifteen-fold increase in L2 cache was likely inspired by AMD’s attempts to mitigate the memory bandwidth shortages 6000-series cards would otherwise have.
For example, the RX 6900 XT has around half the memory bandwidth of the RTX 3090, yet 128MB of its Infinity Cache smooths out communication between its first two cache levels and the memory. AMD also successfully applied a similar approach to the new Ryzen 7 5800X3D, so It’s likely that NVIDIA paid close attention and will capitalize on this development.
Calculations would suggest that the new card can achieve around 66 TFLOPs, but the leaker Greymon55 has kept insisting for months that it’s a whopping 90. TFLOPs aren’t as clear-cut of an indicator as they once were, but such a drastic generational increase still warrants attention.
So, what can we infer about the 4090’s real-world performance from all of this? It will undoubtedly be a major step up from the 3090, which follows the trend set by Ampere and Turing. We can only speculate on how large the increase will be.
Another of Kopite7Kimi’s more cryptic tweets says doubling the 3090’s output isn’t hard to accomplish. If that’s really the case, the 4090 will be an awesome upgrade for content creation, video encoding, and 3D modeling. On the gaming front, you can expect it to run even the most demanding or poorly optimized titles at or close to three-digit framerates in 4K Ultra.
A few days after our article launched, Kopite7Kimi had something more substantial to say. They claim the RTX 4090 can reach a score of more than 19,000 in 3D Mark’s Extreme benchmark. That’s a third more than the RTX 3090 Ti’s hall of fame results where it’s paired with a HEDT CPU. The RTX 3090 paired with something like the i9-12900K scores in the 10 – 12K range, meaning the 4090 could indeed be capable of doubling its performance.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and it looks like 4090 owners will have to pay through their power bills. Kopite7Kimi states that the card’s TBP is 450W, which is in line with the RTX 3090 Ti’s requirements. However, they also hint that the power limit for AD102 will be a jaw-dropping 800W.
It’s not clear whether this refers to the 4090 or a potential Ti version supposedly built on the same die. We’re inclined to believe the latter, so a 600W limit for the regular card sounds more reasonable. Even so, that’s still a sizeable increase that will prompt enthusiast PC builders to reconsider their PSU choices. You’ll want a 1,000+W PSU to run such a system comfortably, and even that’s not certain to be enough until high-end Raptor Lake requirements become known.
A more dubious rumor that surfaced on Chiphell Forums claims how the RTX 4090 will be available in 450W and 600W variants. Does this mean the card will be available in two versions? Will the lower power limit refer to the Founder’s Edition and the higher be reserved for the most advanced partner cards? It’s not clear at this point.
Nothing is yet known about how much the RTX 4090 will cost upon release. The crypto market’s volatility has left many scalpers with a sore taste in their mouths as they’re struggling to offload used 3000-series cards people are wary of buying even at a discount. As the incentive for mining is severely depleted, the 4090’s launch shouldn’t be as plagued by shortages and price hikes as its predecessors.
We assume that it will be easier to find the RTX 4090 at MSRP, but what will that MSRP be? NVIDIA will have to balance being competitive with covering the costs associated with Ada Lovelace’s added requirements. They’ll have to take into account the much beefier cooling needed to tackle a 450W TGP GPU, for example.
One thing we can say with some certainty is that the RTX 4090 won’t cost less than the 3090, so expect to pay no less than $1,500. The most popular MSRP theories put the price between $1,699 and $1,799. We wouldn’t be surprised if the actual price climbs even higher.
RTX 4090 Release Date
The law of supply & demand seems to have put a wrench into NVIDIA’s Lovelace release plans. The earliest leaks suggested that the flagship RTX 4090 would be launching in August of 2022, with a lower-tier card appearing every month after that until November. They were first pushed back by a month, and then by another as the year went on.
October looked like the most likely candidate for a while until crypto started crashing. Rather than buying up more stock, miners began unloading increasingly more 3000-series GPUs. As this was the most sought-after GPU generation ever, manufacturers couldn’t stop production in short order. That resulted in large overstocking problems and plummeting high-end GPU prices.
While that’s great for gamers who want a great GPU at a reasonable price, it discourages NVIDIA from releasing the newer cards while old stock is still abundant. Even so, sources suggested that the flagship card, whether that be the RTX 4090 or Ti, is still slated for an October launch.
This has since decreased in likelihood, however. Kopite has released specs for the RTX 4080 in the meantime and has revised them some time after. GPU manufacturers set their cards architecture in stone well ahead of the paper launch, to say nothing of the actual release date.
To that end, it seems more and more likely that the RTX 4090 will be delayed either to the end of 2022 or Q1 2023. If that’s going to be the case, AMD’s more immediate Q4 2022 7000-series launch will mark the first time in a long while that Team Red is releasing a GPU generation ahead of NVIDIA. Speaking of, official news about the newest NVIDIA cards will be revealed at the GTC event they’re sponsoring in September, which will hopefully answer more questions than it will pose.
NVIDIA also expects demand for the RTX 4090 to be smaller than anticipated. They wanted to reduce their order of 5nm wafers from TSMC to that effect, which the chip maker declined.
While much about the NVIDIA 4090 remains shrouded in mystery, the info that’s out there suggests we’re in for a treat! More informed speculation and facts will be available as the release date draws nearer. We’ll be sure to keep the overview fresh so you won’t miss any updates.