Written by 10:00 am AI, NVIDIA, Uncategorized

### Converting Nvidia RTX 4090 Gaming Cards into AI Accelerators: How Chinese Companies Adapt to GPU Restrictions

Thousands of GeForce RTX 4090 transformed into AI accelerators.

Undoubtedly, the GeForce RTX 4090 stands out as one of the top choices for gaming enthusiasts. Following the prohibition by the United States on Nvidia’s shipment of AI products, including the GeForce RTX 4090, to China, this cutting-edge Ada Lovelace GPU has now gained significant traction as a preferred option for AI-related tasks within the Chinese market.

Recently, an intriguing Chinese store specializing in graphics card disposal attracted a customer from the Tieba Baidu forums. At this store, diligent workers meticulously disassembled the specialized Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics cards, extracted the GDDR6X and AD102 silicon memory modules, and reinstalled them on a blower-style PCB.

Given that these businesses retain the original GPU and GDDR6X chips, this process has been likened to “tissue prostitution.” Subsequently, the bare PCBs and coolers are offloaded onto the Chinese secondhand markets, sometimes fetching prices below $50.

These companies aim to reduce the footprint of the original GeForce RTX 4090 by employing a more compact compressor design, repurposing them as “IoT incubators.” While the GeForce RTX 4090 is well-suited for AI workloads, the custom models have expanded to the extent that they can occupy up to four PCI slots, making the traditional blower-style cooler the optimal choice.

For prominent players like large AI farms, the standard compressor only necessitates two PCI slots, enabling the accommodation of four or more GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards in a rack or cluster. Various Nvidia RTX 4090 compressor graphics cards are available, including offerings from Manli, MSI, and AFOX. Acquiring one of these cards in China has become exceedingly challenging, catering to the demand that these Chinese enterprises fulfill.

Leaked images depict numerous boxes containing a plethora of GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards from manufacturers like Gainward and Palit. Subsequent pictures showcase models from Asus, Colorful, Zotac, and Gigabyte. These shipments seemingly arrived in stock prior to the US restrictions on the GeForce RTX 4090. This emergence of multiple companies in China is indicative of the shifting landscape.

Certain Nvidia AIB partners, such as Galax, have expunged all mentions of the GeForce RTX 4090 from their Taiwanese websites. In the Chinese market, the price of the GeForce RTX 4090 has surged to over $2,700, with a similar uptick observed in the prices of other Ada Lovelace design cards. The Radeon RX 7900 XTX, an AMD RDNA 3 product, has also felt the ripple effects of the GeForce RTX 4090 situation.

Moreover, the escalation in the cost of the GeForce RTX 4090 is not limited to China. Over the past 18 months, prices in the US market have seen a notable increase. Even before the Black Friday sale, the GeForce RTX 4090 had surpassed \(2,000, marking a 25% surge from the MSRP. The most affordable variant is currently priced at \)1,669.99, representing a 5% markup. Similarly, in Europe, where there was a 17% sales overhead, prices have displayed an upward trajectory.

While cryptocurrency mining operations have led to a scarcity of graphics cards, the AI trend differs as AI farms do not rely on consumer-grade graphics cards. As Nvidia reportedly expedited shipments of certain GeForce RTX 4090 models to its Chinese clientele before the sanctions took effect, the price hike for the device is likely temporary. Waiting for the pricing to stabilize could be a prudent move for those considering an upgrade to the GeForce RTX 4090.

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Last modified: February 5, 2024
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