At 9 a.m. EDT on Friday, May 27, graphics specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) made for sale its latest graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition. The card was available for sale from both NVIDIA's own GeForce.com, as well as from third-party resellers.
As of this writing on May 27, NVIDIA, Newegg.com, and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) are completely sold out of their initial batches of GeForce GTX 1080s.
This likely points to strong demand
I believe, at this point, that the GeForce GTX 1080 will be a popular product. As NVIDIA's financial results have demonstrated for quite awhile now, there's very healthy demand for high-end gaming graphics chips. As a result, it's little wonder that a product like the GTX 1080, which is the fastest single-graphics processor card that a gamer can buy today, is seeing strong early demand.
Demand should remain strong
If the early, NVIDIA-built cards are doing well, I suspect that demand will be even better once NVIDIA's partners roll out custom cards based on the same GTX 1080 silicon.
Remember that NVIDIA is charging $699 for a card that runs at reference speeds, and uses a cooler that's apparently expensive to build; but it won't be the fastest, most-powerful card based on the 1080 that customers will be able to buy within the next couple of weeks. It also isn't the cheapest, with vendors planning to offer models at just $599, but with less-flashy aesthetics than NVIDIA's own model.
GTX 1080, overall, should be a winner for NVIDIA and its board partners.
One potential caveat -- supply
When NVIDIA last transitioned to a new manufacturing technology all the way back in 2012 with its Kepler architecture, it had trouble keeping up with demand for the GeForce GTX 680 based on that architecture.
Indeed, the GTX 680 launched on March 22, but even as late as May 2012, there were still many complaints of shortages of cards based on the 680. Shortages aren't good because the more product that NVIDIA can sell today, the less likely said buyers will:
- Decide to "skip" this round of product and wait for NVIDIA's next product.
- Decide to go with a product from a competitor.
Now, according to NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, manufacturing yield rates of the company's GPUs are "good." Further, according to NVIDIA's Tom Petersen in an interview with hardware review website PC Perspective, NVIDIA isn't concerned about Micron's (NASDAQ:MU) ability to supply the GDDR5X memory that's used in the GTX 1080.
It looks to me as though NVIDIA should be able to reach supply/demand balance on the GTX 1080 fairly soon, but this is something that's worth keeping an eye on.
Next up? GTX 1070
I have high expectations for the GeForce GTX 1080, but I have even higher ones for the 1080's cut-down sibling, the GTX 1070. That card is based on the same chip as the 1080, but with functional units disabled. In addition, it uses slower GDDR5 memory rather than the GDDR5X memory found on the 1080.
If independent performance reviews show the 1070 to hit the level of performance that NVIDIA claims -- i.e., Titan X-class -- and if add-in-board partners can get that product out at the $379 MSRP that NVIDIA talked about at its launch event, the 1070 may very well ultimately eclipse the 1080 in the marketplace.