The GeForce RTX 3060, which is one of the best graphics cards for lower end systems, has gone through a small transformation involving defective dies from more powerful GPUs. Matthew Smith (opens in new tab), who maintains TechPowerUp's graphics card database, discovered today that Nvidia is utilizing GA104 dies inside an unannounced GeForce RTX 3060 model.
Unfortunately, chip production isn't perfect, and some silicon does come out defective. But just because it doesn't meet the standards of a certain product doesn't mean it can't be of use in weaker SKUs. Therefore, chipmakers generally recycle defective silicon into lower tier products. Recycling dies is a common practice, and more so now that we're in the middle of a global semiconductor shortage.
The original GeForce RTX 3060 is based on the GA106 die. However, the new variant reportedly utilizes the GA104 die, which is the silicon that Nvidia utilizes for the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070 and RTX 3070 Ti. The new version probably won't arrive with a different model name, so we'll just refer to it as the GeForce RTX 3060 GA104 for simplicity's sake.
The GA106 die is 276 mm² big and houses 13.25 billion transitions. The GA104 die, on the other hand, is a substantially bigger silicon, checking in at 392 mm² with 17.4 billion transistors. Despite the silicon swap, the GeForce RTX 3060 GA104 retains the specifications of the original, and its performance should be in the same alley of if not identical to the GeForce RTX 3060.
The swap from the smaller TU106 die to a larger TU104 die in EVGA's GeForce RTX 2060 KO Gaming revealed a negligible performance difference in gaming. However, the tests showed and even Nvidia itself confirmed that the TU104 variant would deliver slightly higher performance in a certain rendering workload. In the GeForce RTX 2060's case, it was Blender. It'll require testing to see whether the GeForce RTX 3060 GA104 it excels in a specific area.