GeForce RTX 5080 designed to be 'sanctions compliant' for China, expect RTX 4090 performance

GeForce RTX 5080 specs could be limited to ensure a global launch that meets current sanctions, this puts performance on par with the RTX 4090.

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With a planned release for later this year, rumors, speculation, and insider leaks about the upcoming GeForce RTX 50 Series graphics cards are ramping up. The most recent rumors suggest that the GeForce RTX 5080 and RTX 5090 will be released within weeks of each other, much like the initial launch of the Ada Lovelace GeForce RTX 40 Series in 2022.

GeForce RTX 5080 designed to be 'sanctions compliant' for China, expect RTX 4090 performance 01

Built using NVIDIA's Blackwell architecture, the upcoming GeForce RTX 4080 is said to use the new GB203 GPU, while the flagship GeForce RTX 5090 is set to use GB202. Based on leaked or rumored specs, there will be a significant disparity between the two - with GB203 set to include 96 SMs compared to GB202's 192 SMs. Memory bandwidth will be 256-bit on the GeForce RTX 5080 compared to 512-bit on the GeForce RTX 5090.

Although the GeForce RTX 5080 is expected to be more powerful than the current GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER graphics card, the US export ban on powerful GPU hardware could be the reason for the GeForce RTX 5080 launching in such a 'cut down' state.

NVIDIA must ensure that the GeForce RTX 5080 meets specific performance requirements and targets for a global launch in all markets. Otherwise, the GeForce RTX 5080 and RTX 5090 would have to skip China and the other countries on the restriction list. China is a massive market for NVIDIA graphics cards, so launching the RTX 5080 - as is - in the region would be a priority.

It's expected that the GeForce RTX 5090 will not launch in China at all, so with that in mind, NVIDIA has built the GeForce RTX 5080 to be 'sanctions compliant' (as per a recent video from the YouTube channel Moore's Law is Dead).

If true, performance aligns with the cut-down GeForce RTX 4090D, which means the RTX 5080 would perform on par with the current flagship GeForce RTX.

On the plus side, the measurement used for the current US sanctions on GPUs isn't strictly tied to game performance. The GeForce RTX 5080 could comply with restrictions and still deliver an in-game double-digit performance increase (10-15%) over the RTX 4090.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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