According to a Tweet by @Zed__Wang, Nvidia has resurrected the RTX 3080 12GB SKU, in an effort to clear out more GA102 dies from its overstocked inventory. This is a very abrupt change by Nvidia since the 3080 12GB was reportedly dropped from production lines just two months ago. But, we can't blame Nvidia with the "oversupply" crisis going on right now surrounding high-end GPUs.
For those unfamiliar with Nvidia's "stealthy" 3080 model, the 12GB was quietly introduced earlier this year in January at the sole request of AIB partners. We don't have an official explanation for why it was created, but the 3080 12 GB's specs suggest this model was designed to use up defective GA102 dies which had all 12 memory controllers working, but couldn't meet the 80 or more SM requirements of the for 3080 Ti and 3090. This GPU model was launched at the height of the GPU crisis, so it makes sense that AIB partners would have asked for this model in particular.
The RTX 3080 12GB's specifications feature the fully unlocked memory system from the 3080 Ti, including a 384-bit-wide bus, and 12GB of 19Gbps GDDR6X VRAM for a total of 912GBps of memory throughput. But SM counts took a big hit from 80 to 70, resulting in a CUDA core count reduction of 10240 to 8960. Compared to the 3080 10GB model, this is a core count upgrade with 256 additional cores.
Ironically, the buffed-up memory system makes the 3080 12GB a gaming beast, with the card actually outranking the 3080 Ti on our GPU benchmarks hierarchy — that's mostly due to a hefty factory overclock on the MSI Suprim X 3080 12GB we have for testing, but it shows that memory bandwidth can be a bigger factor than compute for these top-tier GPUs. Considering that the RTX 3080 12GB is typically quite a bit cheaper than the 3080 Ti, this is a great value.
Now that Nvidia is dealing with oversupply issues, it makes sense Nvidia would resurrect the 3080 12GB to more efficiently distribute its overabundance of GA102 dies. Once this GPU becomes more widely available, Nvidia can price cut the 3080 10GB more aggressively, while keeping the 12GB model at a higher price. This strategy should allow Nvidia and its board partners to sell more cards and make higher profits simultaneously.
We also suspect the 3080 12GB will be sold at its lowest price ever since its launch in January. Even before the card supply dried up two months ago, you could snag a 3080 12GB for just $729 on a temporary discount. We wouldn't be surprised if Nvidia priced the 3080 12GB around that level, or even lower on a good sale.