Nvidia is delaunchifying, un-unleasing, decatapulting, or—OK fine, we’ll use the word the company used—“unlaunching” its 12 GB version of the upcoming RTX 4080 graphics card. Why? Well according to a Friday blog post, the card is “fantastic,” but “it’s not named right. Having two GPUs with the 4080 designation is confusing.”
Not helping Nvidia’s attempts to avoid confusing its customers, the company’s short and un-revealing announcement isn’t completely clear about what’s really going on here. The 16 GB version of the RTX 4080 is still being released on Nov. 16, Nvidia made clear. The massive GeForce RTX 4090 is already available to consumers, offering a big price point and an even bigger energy drain, but great performance on some of the most demanding games. It’s also a very chonky boy, something that’s been noted and joked about long before it was finally released. But despite this being described as an “unlaunch,” the post leaves the 4080 12 GB’s fate up-in-the-air.
What makes the 4080 different enough that it required the GPU company to de-initaitize its 12 GB release? After all, it’s standard practice for the company to release multiple versions of its cards—regular and “Ti” models.
There seemed to be a hole in Nvidia’s RTX 4000 series launch lineup. There was the 4090, going for $1,599, and the 4080 starting at $899. Both are pricey to be sure, but there was a missing piece of the puzzle—a 4070. When it was first announced, the 12 GB 4080 was set to include 7,680 CUDA Cores and a base 2.31GHZ with a 2.61GHz boosted clock speed.
Meanwhile, the $1,199 16 GB version will include 9,728 CUDA Cores and significantly more TFLOPs for extra oomph. These are vastly different specs, almost making them seem like completely different cards, and the community took notice.
Redditors on the r/hardware subreddit looked at the RTX 4080 12 GB benchmarks and were very unimpressed, with some users saying Nvidia seemed to be giving them a bad deal in terms of how much performance they were getting for such extraordinary prices, especially compared to speeds they were already getting from the now last gen RTX 3080. Some users called the 12 GB 4080 just a rebranded 4070, or even more cheekily, the 4079.
The 16 GB 4080 is still set to release next month, and there’s no hint at when or if the company will try to re-release its 12 GB version and whatever kind of new rebranding scheme it might use. Could it officially be called the 4070 in the future?
It hasn’t helped that this latest generation of graphics cards has been stymied by extremely small supply and the supply chain woes affecting every single aspect of the chip industry. For many, the controversy is about products that only exist in theory.