Nvidia teases GeForce RTX 3090 design tweaks with radical new cooler, 12-pin power

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Nvidia teases GeForce RTX 3090 design tweaks with radical new cooler, 12-pin power

In the run up to the September 1 reveal of next-gen GeForce graphics cards running on Nvidia’s cutting-edge Ampere GPU architecture, the company let its thermal, mechanical, electrical, and industrial design nerds shine in a video describing the challenges of making the new card.

Titled ”The Remarkable Art & Science of Modern Graphics Card Design,” the video is mostly a tease of what’s to come, confirming much-rumored cooling and power pin design changes for the GeForce RTX 30-series. But it’s also packed with foundational information to help graphics enthusiasts understand just what drove the design decisions of Ampere.

The video leads with thermal architect David Haley, who said a GPU without cooling attached to it would heat up to about 760 degrees Celsius, which is 100 degrees hotter than the melting point of aluminum. Haley talks viewers through how cooling works in a graphics card, and then said a lot of changes had to be made for this generation.

“In order to achieve this perfect airflow, we had to remove the constraints we had before,” Haley said. “We have to change the PCB, we have to move the fans, we have to change the software stack that’s controlling the fans.”

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On Redditor posted a rendered image of what many believe the Ampere design will look like.based on an earlier leak.

That’s obviously in reference to the radical look of Nvidia’s next-gen GeForce graphics cards, which has already leaked. The leaks, however, didn’t explain what’s behind the design—but it’s starting to make more sense now. Unlike most graphics cards with rectangular PCBs, the leaks of Ampere-based GeForce graphics cards appear to show a much shorter 6- to 7-inch PCB with a V-notch at the rear. 

That seems to be confirmed by a reference Haley makes to the computational fluid dynamics workups the company did on airflow in a typical desktop.

In the Nvidia video, you can see the fan closest to the back of the PC sucking air in, and exhausting it out the rear of the case—very much like a typical blower style card that’s good for internal case temperatures, but not so great in performance. Nvidia’s video, however, shows a second fan closer to the front of the PC sucking air in and exhausting it directly up, where the the fan mounted behind the CPU will exhaust it. We suspect some air is also channeled to the rear fan as well to cool components.

That’s a big change from a typical dual-fan blower cooler, which simply forces air in over fin stacks of a GPU and then hopes the case itself has enough raw air flow to deal with the heat generated.

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