NVIDIA’s newest and biggest GPU, the GEFORCE RTX 3090, launches on September 24th. Boasting TITAN class performance and powered by Ampere, the GPU comes with enhanced Ray Tracing cores, Tensor Cores and new streaming multiprocessors. It promises to deliver the ultimate gaming experience with 24 GB of GDDR6X memory.
Prices for the RTX 3090 start at $1499 for the founders edition (FE) and demand is expected to be high, with AIBs priced even higher. It is part of a new series of GPUs from NVIDIA with the RTX 3070 to follow, available from October. However, the series is off to a rocky start after trouble surrounding the launch of the RTX 3080 earlier this month. What happened and how ready are NVIDIA this time around?
RTX 3080 Launch: What Went Wrong?
The RTX 3080 went on sale at 6 am on September 17th, but as users logged on at Nvidia’s launch time they were immediately met by an ‘out of stock’ message, it was later discovered that Nvidia sold out in mere seconds worldwide. The higher than expected level of traffic also caused an error on the NVIDIA store. It also meant customers expecting an on-sale notification email did not get one until they were already out of stock. This led to much frustration for customers who couldn’t get their hands on the product they wanted. It was a similar situation on NVIDIA’s partner sites, where stock also sold out fast and crashed many of their websites. US store Newegg was one of those affected, reporting more traffic than on Black Friday.
Those wanting RTX 3080 GPUs, here's some info:
This morning we experienced more traffic than the morning of Black Friday
Limited inventory sold out in 5 mins
We'll release more as we get more
Bot protection was in place, orders were human
Turn on Auto Notify & check back
— Newegg (@Newegg) September 17, 2020
This frustration has increased because it seems bots were responsible for the stock selling out so fast. Indeed, NVIDIA admitted the store was overrun with malicious bots and resellers, who were able to find a way around the one purchase per customer limit. A group of resellers targeted the release and used an automated bot, capable of ordering high numbers of the product instantly, to snap up stock. Some of them even highlighted their success, showing off their transactions online. The RTX 3080 was soon available on resale sites for well over the $699 purchase price.
How has NVIDIA responded?
Whilst NVIDIA tried to highlight the positives – best launch ever, overwhelming demand, tremendous enthusiasm for their product, record traffic compared to previous launches, it was undoubtedly an embarrassing situation for a major tech company to find itself in around the launch of a major new product. So much so that the company acknowledged it as the most frustrating launch ever and published an apology.
When the launch of a new product is treated as a major event, it has to be something of a PR disaster when that launch does not go smoothly. Having successfully built-up demand; consumers clearly wanted the product, you’d have to say customers were let down.
NVIDIA described the demand for the RTX 3080 as “truly unprecedented”, admitting they and their partners underestimated it. They tried to assure customers that the product is in full production and the supply is increasing, with partners increasing capacity to fulfil orders and catch up with the demand. They also urged customers not to be tempted by resellers aiming to take advantage of the lack of availability.
In response to the issues around its own online offering, NVIDIA announced a number of measures to bolster its store. They have moved the site to a dedicated environment, increased capacity and added more bot protection. The sites code has been made more efficient to help with the server load. CAPTCHA has been added to the checkout process to help ward off bots and they have implemented additional security protections to the store APIs.
NVIDIA has said that they cancelled hundreds of orders manually before they were able to ship. They will continue to monitor purchase manually in the hope that only legitimate customers are making purchases.