Rumoured Nvidia Blackwell GPU codenames could skew the RTX 50-series more towards the mainstream

Selection of graphics cards on a multicoloured background
(Image credit: Future)

Everyone's getting very excited about a few numbers, and rumoured codenames, that have 'leaked' around the upcoming Nvidia Blackwell graphics silicon set to launch in 2025. As usual, this has descended into a lot of folk attempting to read these alpha-numeric runes and come up with their own theories on the next generation of GeForce GPUs.

All told, this latest generation of graphics cards has been a bit of a disappointment. Because of the way the Nvidia lineup has been stratified each seems to be at least one level too expensive for the GPU specs and performance they're offering. Well, apart from the top-end RTX 4090, which is the ludicrous GPU you'd always hope the top chip would be, though it could be said that it's just be so much silicon smoke and mirrors obscuring the mess of cards below it.

On the AMD side, we're eight months into its Radeon RX 7000-series generation and we've still only got three (and a half) cards to show for it. With rumours of failed chips and a retreat from the high end for its own next-gen GPUs to come.

Which I guess is why the supposed leak of a handful of numbers potentially related to a new generation of Nvidia graphics cards has created such interest. But, let me reiterate, this is all rumour and speculation as the green team isn't likely to say anything about it until well into 2024 at the earliest.

The crux of this latest flurry of next-gen GPU chat is a post on the Chinese tech forum, Chiphell, which indicates the Blackwell architecture will come with a slightly different lineup to the Ada Lovelace GPU naming scheme of the current generation. Videocardz hit up noted leaker and Liverpool fan, Kopite7Kimi, about the rumour and received what they believe is the full GPU lineup for Blackwell.

That is reportedly going to be made up of GB202, GB203, GB205, GB206, and GB207 GPUs. That skews slightly away from the current Ada lineup, where there is a traditional 04 designation and no 05 chip. That is apparently a new entry in the Nvidia roster, though whether it changes that much is tough to say given that there are still going to be the same number of discrete chips in the Blackwell range.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
AmpereAda LovelaceBlackwell*
Row 1 - Cell 0 AD103GB203
GA104AD104Row 2 - Cell 2
Row 3 - Cell 0 Row 3 - Cell 1 GB205
Row 6 - Cell 0 Row 6 - Cell 1 * rumoured name

The lower the number, the higher it ranks on the performance charts. So the 02 designation will generally be the top-end Titan-class GPU, and the rest following behind in size of chip, specs, and performance.

Nvidia has repeatedly stated throughout the Ada Lovelace generation—in response to claims the GPUs and specs didn't match their positioning—that it prices its graphics cards, and lines them up, in terms of performance and not by the chip at their heart. Which is why you get an RTX 4060 with the sort of GPU spec you'd have probably expected in the RTX 4050, but with performance that can still beat the last-gen RTX 3060.

Still, given the arrival of the 03 chip designation with the current Ada GeForce generation, that could give you some idea of the new stratification of the upcoming Blackwell architecture. You'd expect the GB202 to be the new RTX 5090 (or equivalent, depending on whatever Nvidia wants to call its new cards), with the GB203 to be the RTX 5080, the GB205 to sit in the RTX 5070, the GB206 to be the RTX 5060, and GB207 to be the RTX 5050.

But if never comes out that simple, likely with further Ti cards launching with the same GPU as the next card up the stack, or even having their own chips, such as happened with the RTX 4060 Ti and the AD106 GPU this generation.

What it could mean, with potentially only a pair of high-end chips—the GB202 and GB203—is that Nvidia is skewing the RTX 50-series of graphics cards more towards the lower end of the market. Maybe we'll get more more-affordable GPUs. Ahah. Ahahahaha. As if.

We could also just end up with more cards made with those top two chips and no material difference in the actual next generation graphics card lineup. 

Nvidia RTX 4000 single-slot graphics card.

(Image credit: Nvidia)
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Lastly, why are these chips noted as GB200-series and not GB100-series chips? The expectation is that Blackwell will be the architecture used in both the consumer and data center GPUs, but that those professional cards will use the GB100-series naming scheme, with the gaming chips getting more of a second-generation nomenclature.

Whether that means we'll see Blackwell arriving earlier for the professional crowd than the gamers is tough to say. Mind you, it's all tough to say given that we're still a long way out from any official announcements.

So, until then, it's all just speculation and divining specs and performance from a handful of numbers posted online, which may or may not be of any relevance. Isn't PC tech fun?

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.