By Wallace Witkowski
Nvidia Corp. announced a line of new gaming laptops along with a cheaper desktop chip Tuesday amid supply constraints that have hampered availability of the company’s popular desktop chips, but one analyst believes the laptop rollout could go smoother.
Nvidia /zigman2/quotes/200467500/composite NVDA +0.74% announced desktop gaming chipsets in September based on its next-generation Ampere architecture that was released in May. Those desktop gaming chips included the RTX 3070, priced at $499; the mid-tier RTX 3080, priced at $699; and the high-end $1,499 RTX 3090. Later, in December, Nvidia announced an even lower-priced $399 RTX 3060 Ti chip.
On Tuesday, Nvidia said it would launch an even more inexpensive desktop graphics card, the RTX 3060 — without the “Ti” designation — for $329, in addition to the new laptops. Nvidia said that more than 70 laptop manufacturers would offer gaming laptops that use the company’s next-generation Ampere architecture. Nvidia said its new gaming laptops would be priced at $999 for the RTX 3060 model, $1,299 for the RTX 3070 model, and $1,999 for the RTX 3080 model.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip company said the 3070 and 3080 laptops will ship on Jan. 26, the 3090 laptops will ship on Feb. 2, and the 3060 desktop chip will be available “in late February.”
As many gamers found this past holiday season, however, those list prices were pretty much meaningless as resellers scooped up available RTX 30-series cards and sold them at much higher prices, and remaining 30-series cards were only available from manufacturers who were bundling the cards into pre-made gaming rigs. Supply problems were so bad, especially as many new games that required fast hardware were released, that even Nvidia’s older 20-series generation of cards saw significant markups from resellers.
This new product launch, however, should be a little easier given that laptop chips make better use of constrained foundry resources, Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, told MarketWatch in an interview.
Nvidia, like Advanced Micro Devices Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208144392/composite AMD +0.99% , Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +1.07% , Qualcomm Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206679220/composite QCOM +1.53% and every other chip company that doesn’t maintain its own chip manufacturing plants, known as foundries, has to contract with companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. /zigman2/quotes/204359850/composite TSM +4.51% or Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 0.00% to make the chips they design, unlike chip companies like Intel Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203649727/composite INTC +4.13% and Micron Technology Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205710729/composite MU +5.45% , which maintain their own foundries. As demand for PCs and gaming consoles has shot through the roof because of COVID-19, that’s created a supply bottleneck for a lot of chip companies.
“There is not enough capacity at TSMC and at Samsung,” Moorhead said. “There are too many people going for the same foundries.”
TSMC’s stock rallied earlier in the month following reports the company was boosting its capital spending in 2021 to expand its manufacturing capacity.
Given the current constraints, Moorhead said he believes the launch of Ampere-powered laptops may go smoother.
“These parts are smaller,” Moorhead said. “Generally, they’re 25% the size of a big honking desktop part, that’s just kind of a rule of thumb.”
“You can get a lot more mobile chips per wafer than you can a desktop,” Moorhead told MarketWatch. “I have higher confidence on these than I would on anybody’s desktop [product].”