This year was rich on exceptionally exciting new tech. As rendering is one of our biggest concerns as artists, I feel there's not enough said about new RTX3090 GPUs from this perspective.
RTX3090 is of particular interest to me and my fellow artists for obvious reasons. This GPU is so good, that it went out of stock in 1.2 seconds. My friends at Nvidia kindly sponsored this video and sent me one of their Founders Edition RTX3090. Founders Edition this year is very special.
The day when one GPU is enough for high-end professional work has come.
More VRAM, more CUDA Cores, more RT Cores, more Tensor cores and much more efficient Cooling out of the box.
Vram was a limiting factor ever since GPU rendering became a thing. Over the years NVIDIA was introducing more and more memory, but still, something as High-End as last generation Titans was a luxury. I have two RTX Titans, bought on our own money, specifically for the memory reasons. 24GB of VRAM were available for £2500. This is quite a lot considering there are RTX2080Ti for almost half the price, virtually same performance, but twice as less memory. Memory is important. For many years I was using Octane Render Engine exclusively for all the Graphics Production work. Unfortunately, I had to switch our studio to Redshift last year, because Redshift manages out of core rendering much better, while Octane is mostly crashing with particularly heavy scenes. It is still possible to render using before mentioned out of core. This means that anything that haven't found free space in VRAM will be sent to your regular RAM. This implies GPU performance penalty though. Not only performance suffers, but overall stability too. It's a deeper topic for render engines discussion, but for now let's just keep in mind - 24GB of Memory solves all the issues I just talked about. Rarely your scenes would fill even 20GB.
If last generation of Nvidia cards could offer only Titans with 24GB, new generation offer RTX3090 FE with 24GB for the price of 2080Ti - £1399. Also, one RTX3090 performs same as two 2080Ti.
There's been a lot of buzz around the design of new cards. They are big. The difference is obvious straight away.
Let me clarify what Founders Edition mean. Historically, Nvidia were not actually manufacturing or distributing GPUs. It means that they develop the technology and someone else manufactures it. Nvidia only sells the reference design, the blueprint of some sort, and other brands like ASUS, MSI, EVGA etc. use this suggested blueprint to produce their own versions of the GPU, equip it with their own cooling solution, use their own components and so on. This was the case up until GTX980 series, when Nvidia made their reference cards available publicly. Since then, the GPUs that Nvidia manufacture themselves are titled "Founders Edition". These cards are made by Nvidia themselves, manufactured using most reliable components, equipped with best cooling solution and quality controlled to perform at its best. Unfortunately, previous generations Founders Editions cards were limited in quantity, but the fact they kindly provided me with this Founders Edition unit here allows me to speculate that maybe Founders Edition cards will be available to many more customers in the future. Don't quote me on that, just my thoughts.
So, what's so special about the design apart from its gigantic size? Pretty much everything. It's a giant leap for Nvidia. Believe it or not, this GPU does not heat beyond 67 degrees Celsius. And its silent. I get it that you may not believe me or my screencaptures, but I just wish you get one in future and experience it yourself.
The PCB itself is quite unique this time, it's smaller. The rest of the card is all for cooling. Massive heat sinks and two fans in push-pull configuration.
This design blows the majority of hot air up, instead of in the back of the case. You may be concerned about CPU temperatures, but I wouldn't be.
I've seen numerous tests in various configurations and CPU temps do not suffer. I would recommend the case with top exhaust options though, like the case in my recent rig I've built for RTX3090 specifically. I've published a comprehensive article with all the parts including recommended case in my blog.
I've Benchmarked TitanRTX, 2x2080Tis and this RTX3090 just to have some numbers behind my words.
RTX3090 give us the score of 607. Literally the same as 2x2080Tis, but with double the memory, for the price of one 2080Ti. Crazy.
Rendering with Octane or Redshift is not the only area where RTX3090 dominate. Ampere architecture, RT and Tensor cores provided Performance boost in many more applications like Davinci Resolve & Blender for example.
In Blender new features like Ray Traced motion blur is very fast. Motion blur in 3D is notorious for blown up render times, well not anymore... at least in Blender. I heard similar miracles happening in vray and arnold, but I do not work in those so I couldn't check myself. Blenders motion blur in Cycles with OptiX is very impressive though.
Davinci Resolve tools were very fast with nvidia cards before and got even faster with new architecture. Tools like frame interpolation that allows you to slow down videos that were not meant to be slow, or this amazing new Trails tool in Davinci 17 that is so useful in timelapses - all blazing fast with 3090. I show a few examples in my NVIDIA Studio video, so you can check that out.
But what's worth pointing out is that 8K workflow is not a problem with this card, there is enough memory for 8K proxy-less work even with resource heavy processing like Motion blur on top. Overall this card is the best money can buy for video production work with its 7th gen Encoder and 5th gen Decoder.
So if you're a cinematographer working with the biggest resolution in the world - this card will handle it straight out of the box. Speaking of NVIDIA Studio - their drivers really help to get the best performance possible. Think of it like of Apple with their laptops. They optimize them to the max, and this is exactly what graphics drivers are doing for you and the performance of your GPUs. Optimising software and hardware friendship so to speak. To finally summarize why 3090 Founders Edition is a game changer let's roll back to price, what performance we're getting for that price and maintenance. There's no maintenance whatsoever, the cooling is so good that It's just plug & play power, no water-cooling necessary for the top tier performance. Oh and the last thing... Nvlink. 3090 allows you to combine memory of dual GPU, so if you have 2x3090 you get 48GB of VRAM.
It enables you to deliver world-class media content faster. Just a couple of years ago you'd need to invest substantially more into many machines to be able to do the same work at the same speed. And I was one of those who did invest. Does it sting now to realise such performance is now available for much much cheaper? A little bit, but it's super exciting to see what lies ahead in the world of technology.