China Rebuilt Thousands of RTX 4090 GPUs for AI Computing

Nvidia’s premier gaming graphics card, the GeForce RTX 4090, features the AD102 chip, boasting impressive capabilities in both gaming and AI computing. However, US sanctions prohibiting the card’s sale in China and other nations have posed challenges for AI computing in the region.

Following these restrictions, concerns arose about China’s ability to advance its AI industry. Insights from the Chinese Baidu Forums revealed the initiation of several factories in China, with a particular focus: repurposing them specifically for AI computing.

Information from Chiphell forums indicates that numerous disassembled RTX 4090 units, stripped of GPU components but retaining the attached cooler, are available for sale on reseller platforms.

The inventory boasts thousands of RTX 4090 graphics cards, where engineers have physically removed crucial board elements, including the GPU chip and GDDR6X VRAM, from the graphics card’s PCB.

Allegedly, a fresh PCB design has been developed, accommodating new components, and subsequently installed in the disassembled units. A dedicated testing department has been established to verify the functionality of these GPUs using benchmarks like 3DMark and Furmark.

Furthermore, a new cooling solution has been devised specifically for these GPUs. It involves a dual-slot cooler featuring a single-blower-style fan setup. This cooling mechanism excels in expelling heat from the I/O section, where the HDMI/DP ports are located. This attribute renders these modified RTX 4090s ideal for server environments. It is speculated that these GPUs will serve in high-performance computing capacities, particularly for AI training purposes.

Reason Behind the Ban on NVIDIA AI Chips in China

The initial restriction, enforced by the US government, aimed to curtail AI advancement in specific nations. This included the ban on Nvidia’s premium professional GPUs like the Nvidia H100. Subsequently, several other Nvidia graphics cards, including the RTX 4090, were also barred from being sold in China.

Despite these sanctions, it appears that China might not encounter significant hurdles in securing ample GPU computing power to bolster its AI industry. Recent reports from Reuters indicated that Tencent allegedly possesses a reserve of Nvidia AI chips. The report highlights the presence of Nvidia H800 AI chips, which surpass the RTX 4090 in power for AI-related tasks.

The current situation with the RTX 4090, with prices soaring in the US and limited availability for gamers, has been linked to inventory primarily sent to China before the US sanctions took effect. Consequently, gamers in the US are finding it challenging to get their hands on this high-end GPU designed for their use.

With the likelihood of RTX 4090 GPUs being further restricted due to their redirection to the newly established disassembly and repurposing factories for AI computing in China, consumers in the country might face exacerbated shortages.

Regarding the ban on Nvidia AI chips due to US sanctions, it’s a complicated issue that could potentially disrupt China’s AI innovation roadmap. China’s access to essential AI components may face challenges, especially if these restrictions continue. Share your thoughts on how this ban might impact China’s AI innovation in the comments section below.

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