Why NVIDIA Is Unlaunching The RTX 4080 12GB

Coca-Cola blew a marketing budget worth about $50 million in 2004 with the botched launch of its new C2 beverage. The Harvard Business Review used the fiasco as a case study for reasons why businesses fail, concluding that a brand should "test the product to make sure the differences will sway buyers." Nvidia is in a similar situation right now with its GeForce RTX 4080 series GPUs, which it launched in two flavors. The lower-end model had 12GB of graphics memory and cost $899, while the 16GB version had an asking price of $1,199.

Just a few weeks ahead of their market release, Nvidia has now decided to cancel the 12GB model of the GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, claiming it had flubbed with the naming scheme. In an official blog post, the company mentioned that "the RTX 4080 12GB is a fantastic graphics card, but it's not named right." Nvidia further added that "having two GPUs with the 4080 designation is confusing." While the decision is abrupt, the company is still on track to release the GeForce RTX 4080's 16GB graphics memory variant on Nov. 16.

Evading the storm in advance

On the surface, Nvidia's decision to cancel the entry-level variant of the GeForce RTX 4080 GPU sounds like a calculated marketing move to help prevent confusion for buyers lining up to grab the hot new graphics-crunching machine. However, the cheaper variant wasn't well-received upon the launch, predominantly because the differences between the 12GB and 16GB trims of the aforementioned card run deeper than just the graphics memory.

The 16GB model of the RTX 4080 GPU packed 9728 CUDA cores, while its official performance metrics, as listed in Nvidia's official press release, were 780 Tensor-TFLOPs, 113 RT-TFLOPs, and 49 Shader-TFLOPs. Coming to the 12GB version, it reduced the number of CUDA cores to 7680, while the raw firepower figures were 639 Tensor-TFLOPs, 92 RT-TFLOPs, 40 Shader-TFLOPs. It also had a lower memory interface width (192-bit as opposed to 256-bit) and lower GPU power draw.

A lot of enthusiasts were let down by the performance gulf and called it a cash-grab, while others pointed out that the 12GB RTX 4080 GPU ideally would have been launched as a the GeForce RTX 4070 or a lower-end model. Nvidia appears to have learned a bitter lesson ahead of the wide market launch and has therefore decided to cancel the 12GB memory configuration of the RTX 4080 GPU.