What counts as “a long time” in graphics cards? A year, a month, a week, 24 hours? Realistically a lot can change in the GPU world in just a few hours, and Nvidia especially has a history of dropping new graphics cards with practically no notice. So when the effusive Nvidia CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, says the next generation of GeForce GPUs won’t appear until “a long time from now” it’s just vague enough to be almost meaningless.
And there are a lot of reasons why ol’ JHH will want to keep up the pretence of next-gen graphics cards being far from ready for retail, the main one being that there are still a whole lot of Pascal-based GPUs in the channel and they’re still selling.
Jen-Hsun wants you to keep buying today’s GPUs and here are the best Nvidia graphics cards right now.
Even before Charlie over at SemiAccurate revealed there were an alleged 300,000 GPUs going back to Nvidia from an unnamed Taiwanese graphics card maker, there was already evidence that a large number of Pascal-gen GPUs were still around in the channel.
The expectations were that the mining drama would keep inflating graphics card pricing, and curtailing availability, all the way through to the third quarter of this year. That meant it was all hands to the pumps to manufacture as many GPUs as possible in order to fulfil both the demand from gamers and from miners.
But the arse has dropped out of the mining market earlier than expected, with a succession of hacks and government regulatory troubles meaning Bitcoin, and the associated cryptos, such as Ethereum, have dropped in value significantly. Add in the prospect of GPU-mining capable ASICs and suddenly it’s Q2 and there’s almost no value for anyone but the very biggest mining corps to actually buy up a bunch of expensive graphics cards.
So while the likes of AMD and Nvidia have been making as many GPUs as they can to get the channel filled, it’s no longer draining out quite as quickly as it was. That means there are a lot of graphics cards with no home to go to, and only gamers realistically looking to buy new ones.
GPU pricing hasn’t really come down to previous levels either, with manufacturers sticking to high margins on their cards because there is obviously the prospect of a new generation of GPUs on the horizon and they’re desperate to make as much cash of their current inventory as they can in the short term. That’s not really a problem for AMD as it doesn’t have anything new coming until Q1 next year at the earliest, with the AMD Navi cards. But for Nvidia it is a bit of an issue.
Is it enough for Nvidia to delay the GTX 1180 release date?
Even with 300k old units going back to them from the manufacturers I don’t think that’s really going to impact on the timing of the next generation. Some have suggested that Nvidia removing its session from the Hot Chips agenda means that it won't be presenting there now, and that in turn means there is a delay on the release of next-gen cards.
Realistically Nvidia's Stuart Oberman will likely still be presenting at the event, but the company probably didn't want any suggestion of the next-gen release date being spoken about out in the open. Even without that alleged large return of GPU silicon Nvidia was never going to come out and say ‘yeah, don’t bother buying our current gen GPUs ‘cos we’ve got something special coming soon!’
It was always going to play down the next-gen cards until the very last moment.
So when Jen-Hsun says the GTX 1180, or GTX 2080, or V80 GTX, or whatever Nvidia’s marketing department decide to call it, is going to be “a long time from now” that could be anything from 24 hours to two months.