BEIJING: US chipmaker Nvidia on Thursday (Dec 28) launched a modified version of an advanced gaming chip meant to comply with US export controls targeting China.
The chip, which the company says offers a “quantum leap in performance, efficiency and artificial intelligence-driven graphics”, will be offered to Chinese customers starting in January, an Nvidia spokesperson told Reuters.
“The GeForce RTX 4090 D has been built to fully comply with US government export controls. While developing this product, we actively engaged with the US government,” the spokesperson said.
The GeForce RTX 4090 D marks the first China-focused chip Nvidia has officially launched since export rules unveiled by the Biden Administration in October meant two modified artificial intelligence (AI) chips Nvidia had created for the Chinese market to comply with previous export rules, the A800 and H800, were blocked for sale, as well as a top-of-the-line gaming chip, the RTX 4090.
Chip industry magazine SemiAnalysis said in early November that Nvidia, in response to the October export rules, could announce three new AI chips aimed at the Chinese market as soon as Nov 16.
However, Reuters claimed late last month that Nvidia told customers in China it was delaying the launch of one of these chips until the first quarter of next year. The final two have not yet appeared on Nvidia’s China website.
Nvidia has commanded more than 90 per cent share of China’s US$7 billion AI chip market, and experts have said the US curbs are likely to create opportunities for domestic firms such as Huawei Technologies to make inroads.
US Commerce Secretary Raimondo, in an interview with Reuters on Dec 11, said that Nvidia can sell AI chips to China, just not those with the best processing power.
Compared to the banned RTX 4090, the China-focused RTX 4090 D is “5 per cent slower in gaming and creating”, according to the Nvidia spokesperson.
The China-focused RTX 4090 D will cost 12,999 yuan (US$1,842), 350 yuan (US$50) more expensive than the second most advanced chip in the product series offered to Chinese customers.