It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see that, despite the card’s very high price, most retailers’ RTX 4090 inventories have been depleted, indicating we’re in another situation where demand is far outweighing supply. But if a new report is accurate, there may be even fewer AD102 GPUs available as Nvidia is allocating production over to the more profitable Hopper-based H100 enterprise GPUs.
A quick look on Newegg for the RTX 4090 brings nothing but the “Out of Stock” notices that were a depressingly familiar sight during the height of the graphics card crisis. The $1,499 MSRP is a high one, but the sheer raw performance of the current Lovelace flagship has made it an appealing prospect to those who want the best of the best.
According to MyDrivers, the RTX 4090 scarcity could be exacerbated by Nvidia instructing the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) to shift some production from the AD102 GPU, which powers the RTX 4090, over to the H100 compute processors. They both use the same 4N node, so switching production shouldn’t be too much of a problem for TSMC.
Why would Nvidia be making such a move? As with so many things in life, much of it probably comes down to money. The RTX 4090 might have high margins, but it can’t compete against the H100 GPU; the $30,000+ SXM variant features 16,896 FP32 CUDA cores, 528 Tensor cores, and 80GB of HBM3 memory connected using a 5,120-bit bus. H100-based products sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and companies often buy them in bulk for server farms and exascale computers, which means a healthier bottom line for Nvidia.
Nvidia probably needs the extra money. It had an abysmal second quarter due to the drop in gaming revenue and lower consumer demand stemming from skyrocketing inflation. It also faces a hefty bill from the “unlaunching” of the RTX 4080 12GB, especially as team green is reportedly footing most of the bill from AIB partners who must rebox and rebrand the card.
But the most significant financial hit Nvidia might be about to take could come courtesy of the US government. A few weeks ago, US officials instructed Nvidia and AMD to stop selling their high-performance AI-focused GPUs to China, which is expected to cost the former company up to $400 million.
As with all unverified reports, take this one with a healthy grain of salt. But Nvidia might believe shifting production of the AD102 to be the best course of action, especially with the AD103-based RTX 4080 16GB and the rebranded AD104-based ‘RTX 4080 12GB’ cards on their way to help meet some of the demand.