Updated: Aug 29, 2021
Story & Writing by Tom of Moore's Law Is Dead
Also Co-Written by KarbinCry
8/29/21 Update: As covered at the end of the i5-12600K Leak (https://youtu.be/Yk-6Fe0nkvs?t=1060), RTX 3060s were indeed in stock on Newegg and other storefronts at inflated prices in August for the first time in months. But as also outlined in recent Broken Silicon podcasts and the July Loose Ends - this is a temporary flood meant to capitalize on people who failed to get one of the many (but not plentiful enough for the market) 6600 XT's this month. This flood would never be enough, and Nvidia doesn't want to sell a ton of these cards to desktop gamers with 12GB.
8/12/21 Update: As covered in the "RX 6600 XT Analysis" video, it is now confirmed from MLID retail & distributor sources that AMD is delivering far more cards at the 6600 XT launch than previous RDNA 2 launches. Additionally, a substantial portion of the volume is at MSRP.
It is also confirmed that magnitudes more RTX 3060 cards are arriving for retail in August compared to previous months.
The Rush to LHR isn’t exactly a Rush
Nvidia’s LHR initiative was marketed as a move to deter miners from stealing cards meant for gamers. Yet, based on numerous testimonies from sources at retailers and AIBs, it seems that while Nvidia is claiming to require AIBs to ship LHR cards, there are no heavy handed requirements on how quickly AIBs are to switch most of their production to non-LHR models (which are different models containing different hardware).
In July there was not a consistent flood of LHR units to every retailer MLID got ahold of for comment, most new arrivals are non-LHR models – and next month’s are expected to be as well. AIBs are happy to keep manufacturing new non-LHR stock - which of course fetches higher street prices, and retailers are happy to keep selling them. To be clear – LHR models are expected to be the standard eventually, with much more LHR stock as a proportion of shipments "at some point," but it doesn’t seem like Nvidia is rushing all of their partners to transition production lines as quickly as the market was lead on to believe.
Pictured Above: Some non-LHR RTX 3070s newly produced waiting to be sold by a source
This double talk by Nvidia is reminiscent of what happened with the 3060 limited hashrate driver situation earlier this year, with the limitation imposed on that card being quickly nullified by Nvidia “accidentally” leaking a driver without the hashrate limit. This was immediately suspicious back then, and one of our sources has even explicitly said that this “accidental leak” was intentional, increasing the demand and street price for the RTX 3060 for the miners ok with not needing the latest gaming drivers. In fact, one source affirmed that “Nvidia will always find a way to allow a notable amount of their cards to be appealing to miners – they just don’t want to look like the bad guy to gamers, and they don’t want all of their stock to be able to be flooded on the market in the event of another mining crash around one of their newer launches.”
RTX 3060 – All But Discontinued?
Speaking of RTX 3060, we have gotten further confirmation of Nvidia’s original plans with this model. As previously exposed by Moore’s Law Is Dead and Gamers Nexus, Nvidia was going to release a reasonably profitable 6GB card between $299 and $349 in their initial Ampere launch plans.
However, strong competition from AMD’s Upper End of the RDNA 2 lineup spooked Team Green into giving the card more VRAM – almost at cost (very atypical, GPU companies like milking the double VRAM variants). Of course, the $349 RX 6700 non-XT that Nvidia was afraid of has not arrived, and that has left Nvidia undoubtedly regretting being so unseasonably charitable with their VRAM capacity for the 3060.
The decision to double its planned memory was reasonable back then, with GDDR6 prices under $6 per GB (so an extra 6GB would add $36 at most). But throughout the past few months, prices of GDDR6 have exploded, doubling to around $12 per GB – and the projections are not good, with this price expected to rise further through Q4 of 2021.
Those extra 6GBs of memory are already adding around $70 to the BOM of a 3060, and it will only get worse. This has lead a lot of our contacts to assume Nvidia is not producing many GA106 dies, based on the already low supply of these. However, that assumption is actually false.
Nvidia is producing a lot of GA106 dies – and giving them only 6GB in laptops, and constricting the supply to the desktop market…for now. Many desktop models are also being stockpiled, next to RTX 3060 Tis that many will notice have also been almost impossible to get ahold of, to head off the RX 6600 XT launch.
Nvidia expects the launch of these in August, but with few indications of an impending launch, they may end up with an even larger stockpile than originally intended. The plan then is to drown the 6600 XT in a flood of 3060 Ti and 3060 cards.
This tracks with Nvidia’s previous attempts to disrupt the launches of their competitors; let’s just point out the Vega launch being killed by the GTX 1070 Ti, or Nvidia’s attempt at shifting attention from AMD FSR to them by releasing 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti.
Supply Boom - Are the MSRPs Back?
Meanwhile, AMD themselves also have a large stockpile of Navi23 dies for the 6600 XT (relative to recent launches) according to our sources, and those previous launches were already huge for AMD, with record shipments – yet we are hearing that the 6600 XT launch will be even bigger.
With 6600 XT expected to launch with a high volume, and Nvidia simultaneously releasing their stockpile of GA106 and GA104 based cards, could we see the satisfaction of gamer demand and full normalization of the GPU market?
According to industry sources, definitely not immediately. In fact, despite those huge volumes of lower end cards being expected to hit the market, the forecast is that these stockpiles will only satiate about a sixth of the remaining PC gamer demand.
The high prices and shortages are here to stay a bit longer. Of course, the supply will be bolstered by the 6600 XT launch and the accompanying steps from Nvidia, and prices will drop... but only slowly. And not as much as many people expect.
Yes, there will be a lot more GPUs on the market soon. But the demand will keep dominating the supply. And it’s not just the crazy high demand, but also the higher memory prices, higher packaging prices (everything from substrate, to PCBs, to the boxes), and higher tariffs in a lot of countries. Not to even mention the general price inflation we see with all goods already – with one source literally saying: “Anticipated inflation is the final factor that will prevent AIBs from allowing most of their models to hit MSRP…ever.”
Oh, and Chinese Miners spooked by dropping Ethereum prices won’t save gamers, at least in the west, either. Yes, there have been reports of Chinese Miners selling 3060s for $270...if you come to them and buy hundreds of them on location in China. By the time those get out of China and hit western markets, they will be priced in line with current usual 3060 pricing, with all the logistics costs, tariffs, and of course a profit margin stacked on top of that original $270 sale price.
Furthermore, it's the recent crackdown on mining by China's government that is causing those “cheap“ mining GPUs to be sold off in China, not worries that Ethereum isn't profitable to mine by large firms anymore. Mining is still very profitable, steps like hashrate limited drivers or (minimally produced) LHR models aren’t doing that much to help, serving more as lip service from Nvidia to curry favor with gamers.
The MSRPs are nowhere near back. Prices will go down slowly, but expect them to be above MSRP for most stock (you can always get lucky and get a GPU near MSRP once in a while) for the remainder of the year – despite a lot of 3060s, 3060 Tis, and 6600 XTs flooding the market in August (by all indications). The “flood” just isn’t going to be big enough to satiate demand, although technically August will of course be better than prior months, and rising production costs are hear to stay for the foreseeable future.
Low-End GPUs– An Endangered Species
The floor of GPU prices has been rising each generation, but the current high demand situation has reportedly emboldened both Nvidia and AMD to attempt to kill off the sub-$400 market going forward. Those price ranges were occupied by mid-end or even high-end products even quite recently, but now AMD and Nvidia want to abandon this price range to APUs and second hand cards.
In fact – let’s remember the previous deceitful pricing strategy from Nvidia with Ampere, and then let’s take a minute to think about what the lessons from all of that spoken backlash, and yet lack of real actions from gamers, taught Nvidia.
Well it’s simple – that “Ultimate Play” Nvidia did manipulating supply and MSRP – wasn’t just unworthy of the effort, it was entirely unnecessary. If I was Jensen Huang, I would have learned from this community that there was absolutely no reason to set Ampere’s MSRP artificially low, with tiny volumes of cards made for that MSRP, and then release almost all of the cards in models way above MSRP. No reason at all.
See, if Nvidia just set the MSRPs as high as they wanted most of the cards to sell at... gamers would still have bought those GPUs. There was no reason to lie about how much Nvidia was directly prioritizing shipping cards to miners, not gamers – gamers still bought anything they would get at inflated prices anyways.
Most gamers clearly just don’t care deep down, even if they pretend to on Reddit. The people complaining about pricing seem by all indications to be a small minority at best, and at worst – the record sales suggest most of those complaining have still went and bought what they proclaim to be an overpriced product – patience is clearly not a virtue in this community. Actions are what matter, not your hollow words in online forums.
The current market is crazy, but it is not going back to normal anytime soon, this is possibly even the new normal – so consider getting used to it. And if AMD and Nvidia have anything to say about it – the prices, at least, and the trend of increasingly shipping high-end products at the expense of cheaper models will become the new normal – after all, gamers voted for this new normal with their wallets since Turing. Enjoy the Ultimate Play.
Epilogue - Then Intel DG2 Enters the Room
All of this sounds pretty bleak if you were one of those PC Gaming Enthusiasts who found half the fun in building a new PC was maximizing price/performance (I am one of those types), but Intel remains a wild card that could shake up the market if they can hit decent performance targets at aggressive price points. Hopefully Raja & Pat will seize on the opportunity they have here for Intel to make a positive difference on the PC Gaming market, and thus also make a positive first impression on gamers with their first foray into high performance gaming GPUs...
Original Ultimate Play: https://www.mooreslawisdead.com/post/nvidia-s-ultimate-play