If you thought it would become easier to purchase an Nvidia RTX 3080 or 3090 by the end of the year, you might be wrong. And it doesn't look good for the RTX 3070, either. Today Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang revealed that the company expects the crushing shortages of RTX 3080 and 3090 graphics cards to persist through the end of 2020, saying:
"I believe that demand will outstrip all of our supply through the year," Huang said. "Remember, we're also going into the double-whammy. The double-whammy is the holiday season. Even before the holiday season, we were doing incredibly well, and then you add on top of it the ‘Ampere factor,’ and then you add on top of that the ‘Ampere holiday factor,’ and we're going to have a really really big Q4 season."
Jensen Huang's answer came during a Q&A with the press to cover the company's GTC announcements. Still, as expected, the topic of the ongoing shortages of GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090 models bubbled up during the session. In response to a question about the shortages, Huang countered that the company hadn't experienced a shortage of supply, but rather an abundance of demand:
"The 3080 and 3090 have a demand issue, not a supply issue," said Huang. "The demand issue is that it is much much greater than we expected — and we expected really a lot."
"Retailers will tell you they haven't seen a phenomenon like this in over a decade of computing. It hearkens back to the old days of Windows 95 and Pentium when people were just out of their minds to buy this stuff. So this is a phenomenon like we've not seen in a long time, and we just weren't prepared for it."
"Even if we knew about all the demand, I don't think it's possible to have ramped that fast. We're ramping really, really hard. Yields are great, the product's shipping fantastically, it's just getting sold out instantly," said Huang. "I appreciate it very much, I just don't think there's a real problem to solve. It's a phenomenon to observe. It's just a phenomenon."
Nvidia also recently postponed the RTX 3070 launch to build up supply, but given the impressive 2080 Ti-beating performance at a reasonable $499 price point (per Nvidia), we can expect demand will be even greater than we've seen for the 3080 and 3090.
Huang's assessment of the breadth of the shortage is similar to reports we've seen from several China-based media outfits that predicted the shortages would last until 2021. Those reports also outlined that we could see third-party graphics card makers create bundle deals that force users to buy a motherboard with the GPU to upsell customers. That hasn't happened...yet.
Scalpers have taken advantage, though, and the only way you can find RTX 3080 and 3090 models currently is to either exercise your F5 button (and patience) during the rare few moments of sporadic availability, or pay a scalper a ridiculous premium. We don't recommend the latter, particularly since you generally have no support or RMA option if you go through a scalper.
As it stands, the RTX 3070 launch, possibly RTX 3060 as well, and the holiday season are looming large. AMD also has Big Navi coming soon, though the GPUs come from a different source (TSMC instead of Samsung) so maybe AMD's launch won't be quite as supply constrained. Still, we expect more of the same from Nvidia for the rest of 2020, and the holiday season isn't going to help. The Grinch appears to be dressed in Nvidia-green this year.