Nvidia already makes some of the best graphics cards, but it’s also not resting on its laurels. Although the RTX 40-series — bolstered by a refresh — is still very recent, Nvidia is also working on its next-gen GPUs from the RTX 50-series.
Although the release date of RTX 50-series GPUs is still far away, various rumors and leaks give us a better clue of what to expect. Here’s everything we know about Nvidia’s upcoming generation of graphics cards.
RTX 50-series: Specs
|Nvidia RTX 50-series
|GB202, GB203, GB205, GB206, GB207
|Maximum bus width
|DisplayPort 2.1, HDMI 2.1
With the release of RTX 50-series GPUs still a long while away, Nvidia hasn’t confirmed any specifications for any of the cards. In fact, we’re not even sure which models are on the way. However, piecing together speculation from various hardware leakers gives us some information as to what we can expect. Remember to take the following with a healthy dose of skepticism until Nvidia itself spills the beans.
— kopite7kimi (@kopite7kimi) November 15, 2023
We know for a fact that the follow-up to Ada Lovelace will be called Blackwell, honoring American mathematician David Blackwell. Rumor has it that it will be manufactured by TSMC based on a 3nm process, but it’s unclear whether Nvidia will be using one of TSMC’s existing 3nm nodes or a custom node.
The lineup is said to include chips spanning from the high-end, RTX 4090-equivalent GB202, through GB203, GB205, GB206, and lastly, the entry-level GB207. If proven true, this will be an interesting, or perhaps worrying, change. It would mean that the AD104 GPU powering the RTX 4070 has no successor in the next generation. It’s possible that the RTX 5070 and RTX 5070 Ti might, therefore, utilize the GB205 chip.
— kopite7kimi (@kopite7kimi) November 15, 2023
One of the most talkative sources of information on the RTX 50-series has been kopite7kimi on X (formerly Twitter). The leaker revealed that we can expect the new GPUs to feature support for DisplayPort 2.1, something that the Lovelace lineup doesn’t provide, and also for HDMI 2.1. The user also teased that RTX 50-series cards will feature next-gen GDDR7 memory, and the maximum memory bus width is said to be 384-bit. This goes against previous speculation that implied the RTX 5090 might have a 512-bit memory bus.
YouTuber RedGamingTech claimed in a recent video that he was able to find out the specs for the RTX 5090 from a reliable source. Some of his findings are in line with kopite7kimi, including the 384-bit GDDR7 memory. The YouTuber supplemented that by adding that the flagship GPU will have 204 stream multiprocessors (SMs) and a 96MB L2 cache.
It’s too early to know the specifics of any individual card at this point. It’s likely that Nvidia will release models ranging from the RTX 5060 to the RTX 5090, with some Ti options added into the mix. Let’s hope that it will keep the specs balanced to offer a good spread of cards for enthusiasts and entry-level users alike.
RTX 50-series: Pricing and release date
As far as the release date goes, we haven’t heard any specifics from Nvidia just yet — but most estimates pin the launch of Blackwell around the end of 2024 and the beginning of 2025.
According to early rumors, Nvidia wasn’t supposed to be ready to launch the new graphics cards until 2025. This would give AMD a major edge, seeing as it’s rumored to launch RDNA 4 GPUs later this year. However, according to YouTuber and frequent leaker Moore’s Law Is Dead, Nvidia may not give AMD the breathing room it so badly needs.
Moore’s Law Is Dead said in a recent video that a source at Nvidia told him that “Blackwell is being prepared to be ready to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024,” but only if Nvidia wants it to. This depends on whether RDNA 4 will be competitive enough to take away sales from Nvidia during the holiday season at the end of this year, as well as how Ada sales are going around that time
No matter what, Nvidia is supposedly planning to “make a big deal about RTX 5000 efficiency at CES 2025.” This means that, no matter what, the GPUs are supposedly launching either at the end of 2024 or near the beginning of 2025.
The pricing of these GPUs is pure speculation at this point. In this generation, Nvidia adopted a pricing strategy that can only be referred to as “expensive.” It might follow down that path and push the prices even higher, especially if the demand for AI GPUs remains as high as it is right now. After all, the current demand pushed the RTX 4090 way above $2,000, even though it launched at an already very high price point of $1,600. This certainly makes the RTX 5090 a worrying prospect.
Assuming the flagship 5090 will cost close to $2,000, the rest of the lineup is unfortunately likely to follow with price increases across the board. However, for Nvidia to remain the go-to against AMD, the prices can’t keep rising forever. There is some hope that Nvidia will realize this and keep its pricing more reasonable in this next generation, but it’s too early to tell.
RTX 50-series: Architecture
Nvidia is keeping the architecture used in Blackwell chips hush-hush, but it won’t stay that way much longer. With the GPUs around a year away, we’ll learn more as the release date draws closer. For now, all we have is more speculation from various sources, but the information is often somewhat conflicting.
RedGamingTech talked about the Blackwell architecture at length in a recent video. The YouTuber referred to it as “one of the most influential graphics architectures,” predicting that the RTX 50-series will introduce significant improvements to things like path tracing and ray tracing, offering gains for both enthusiast-grade and midrange cards.
To that end, the YouTuber said we might see significant architectural changes, including a major redesign of Nvidia’s SMs. He also mentioned the addition of a denoising accelerator, either as a part of the chip or as a function of Nvidia’s Tensor cores. More importantly, RedGamingTech teased that Nvidia may use a multi-chip module (MCM) design. This means a design approach where multiple smaller chips are packaged together to form a single, larger, and more powerful processor. Switching to an MCM design over monolithic could give Nvidia a major edge, including scalability, higher yields, and more design flexibility.
However, RedGamingTech’s predictions don’t necessarily align with the rumors surrounding the performance of these GPUs. However, it’s possible that Nvidia may introduce architectural changes instead of pushing for top performance and allow the new technology to mature before ramping up the performance in RTX 6000-series graphics cards a few years from now.
RTX 50-series: Performance
As the specifications of RTX 50-series graphics cards are still mostly a mystery, it’s hard to make any accurate predictions as to the performance of these GPUs. However, many have tried, which is why we have some juicy rumors to dig into while we wait for official benchmarks.
According to Moore’s Law Is Dead, the performance uplift between Ada and Blackwell may not be major. The YouTuber’s source mentioned that “Blackwell’s rasterization uplift over Ada will not be as impressive as [from] Ampere to Ada.” However, the source also said that Nvidia could make the RTX 5090 feel like a similar uplift “if it felt threatened.” That seems unlikely, seeing as AMD is reportedly stepping down from making high-end GPUs in the next generation, potentially leaving Nvidia as the only source of high-end graphics cards for the next couple of years.
Based on the above, we might be looking at performance gains along the lines of 30% to 50% for the flagship. Midrange and entry-level cards typically see a smaller boost in performance gen-on-gen, so those might be even less impressive.
However, on the other end of the spectrum is speculation from sources like RedGamingTech. The YouTuber claims in his video that we’re looking at an up to 2x increase in performance between Lovelace and Blackwell. He mentioned that the RTX 50-series should double the ray tracing performance compared to the RTX 40-series, as well as provide a performance boost of up to 2x. RedGamingTech is unsure if this means rasterization, though, so it’s hard to know the metric by which to measure these gains. He does, however, predict clock speeds reaching over 3GHz, which would be a sizeable boost over Ada.
The only real hint of performance figures we have right now comes from a slide made by Nvidia, but unfortunately, the slide talks about its next-gen high-performance computing (HPC) graphics card used in data centers. The graph, which measures GPU performance in GPT-3 175B inference, shows that the H200 GPU will be up to 18 times faster than the A100 — but that’s not Blackwell architecture yet. B100, the first Blackwell graphics card on the list, offers significantly higher performance, although Nvidia didn’t put a number on it. It looks to be about twice as fast as the H200.
While that’s exciting for those in need of an HPC GPU, gamers and other consumers will need to wait to find out the reality about the capabilities of RTX 50-series GPUs.
RTX 50-series: Power draw
Prior to the release of the RTX 40-series, the flagship RTX 4090 was the subject of a lot of rumors, and its power draw was an especially hot topic. Some sources claimed that the GPU would have truly monstrous power consumption, even reaching up to 900 watts. We now know that those claims were false, as the RTX 4090 consumes 450 watts, and its connector supports up to 600W — while occasionally melting. It’s hard to imagine that Nvidia will push those numbers even higher in the next generation of GPUs.
Assuming Nvidia sticks to the (somewhat controversial) 12VHPWR connector that it’s currently using, the maximum power consumption will remain at 600W. The flagship RTX 5090 might go on to see an increase in power draw if it offers significantly more performance, but it’ll still need to leave some room for potential overclocking, so a maximum of 500W seems reasonable.
For the rest of the lineup, it’s possible that Nvidia will try to keep things more conservative instead of pushing for higher power consumption. As pointed out by NotebookCheck, Nvidia’s current trend of increasing total board power (TBP) is still fairly new — especially on cards like the RTX 4080. Historically, xx80 cards stayed well under 300W, even dipping below 200W at times. In the last couple of generations, the RTX 3080 and the RTX 4080 both pushed the TBP to new heights, with each requiring up to 320W.
With power consumption as high as this, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Nvidia to keep pushing for even higher wattages, especially seeing as AMD is likely to keep it more conservative in RDNA 4, too. If Nvidia does dial it back a little, we might see the RTX 5080 with a TBP around 250W to 280W. However, if Nvidia sticks to its current scheme, it might go in the other direction and hit as high as 350W.