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About GeForce RTX 3080 Review
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is based on the new Nvidia Ampere graphics architecture, which brings huge improvements to both raw performance and power efficiency. The fact that Nvidia has increased the power budget so much over the RTX 2080 while boosting power efficiency means that the overall performance profile is far above what any Nvidia Turing graphics card was capable of.
There have been obvious improvements to the RT and Tensor cores – we’re on the second and third generation, respectively – but perhaps the biggest improvement has been to the rasterization engine.
Through some clever optimization, Nvidia was able to double the amount of CUDA cores present on each Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) by making both data paths on each SM able to handle Floating Point 32 (FP32) workloads – a vast improvement over Turing, where one data path was dedicated entirely to integer workloads. This effectively doubles raw FP32 throughput core for core, though this won’t directly translate into double the frame-rate in your favorite PC games – at least, not for many of them.
What this means is that, while the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 only has 46% more SMs than the RTX 2080 at 68, it more than doubles the CUDA core count, from 2,944 to 8,704. This translates to nearly three times the theoretical FP32 throughput from around 10 TFLOPs to 29.7 TFLOPs – an absolutely massive generational leap.
When you pair the uplift in CUDA cores, with massive boosts to Cache, Texture Units and Memory Bandwidth – thanks to the move to faster GDDR6X memory on a 320-bit bus – gaming performance gets one of the biggest generational jumps in years, even if it does fall a bit short of that ‘2x performance’ target that we’re sure some folks were hoping for. But more on that later.
Nvidia RT cores are also back – that’s why Nvidia has the RTX name, after all – and they also see massive improvements. Nvidia Ampere graphics cards, including the RTX 3080, include second-generation RT cores, which will function similarly to the first generation RT cores, but will be twice as efficient.
When ray tracing, the SM will cast a light ray in a scene that’s being rendered, and the RT core will take over from there, where it will do all the calculations necessary to find out where that light ray bounces, and will report that information back to the SM. This means that the SM is left alone to render the rest of the scene. But, we’re still not at a point where turning on ray tracing doesn’t have any impact on performance. Maybe some day.
Tensor cores are also twice as powerful this time around, which has led Nvidia to only include 4 in each SM rather than the 8 you would find in a Turing SM. Coupled with the fact that there are now more SMs in general, DLSS performance also gets a massive boost.
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