In a surprising move, the U.S. government has imposed a ban on Nvidia’s latest gaming powerhouse, the GeForce RTX 4090, preventing its distribution to China. The ban, rooted in concerns over the potential misuse of the GPU for artificial intelligence (AI) purposes, has prompted Nvidia to take swift action by removing all listings of the RTX 4090 from its offerings in the Chinese market. However, the chipmaker has chosen to retain the RTX 6000 Ada, a workstation-grade graphics card, on its Chinese website.
The GeForce RTX 4090, hailed as one of the most advanced gaming graphics cards available, is built upon the AD102 graphics processing unit. Boasting an impressive total processing performance score of 5,280, derived from its FP8 Tensor FLOPS performance of 660 TFLOPS, the RTX 4090’s capabilities have triggered export restrictions. With its Total Power Consumption (TPP) exceeding the threshold of 4,800, any shipment of the RTX 4090 to China now necessitates an export license from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Nvidia’s decision to pull the RTX 4090 listings from its Chinese portfolio aligns with the challenges associated with obtaining the required export license. The application process for such licenses is met with a presumption of denial, making it a formidable obstacle for companies seeking approval. Consequently, the ban appears to have dissuaded Nvidia from pursuing the sale of its flagship gaming GPU in the Chinese market.
Interestingly, while the GeForce RTX 4090 faces restrictions, Nvidia continues to showcase the RTX 6000 Ada Generation graphics card on its Chinese website. This professional-grade solution is equipped with the AD102 graphics processing unit, featuring 18,176 CUDA cores and achieving a total processing performance score of 5,828. Notably, the RTX 6000 Ada is fortified with 48 GB of memory, positioning it as an optimal choice for AI training applications.
U.S Department of Commerce
The decision to maintain the presence of the RTX 6000 Ada in China raises questions about the distinctions drawn by the U.S. government between gaming GPUs and those tailored for professional applications. The RTX 6000 Ada not only surpasses the RTX 4090 in processing performance but also features a compact blower cooling system. This design enhances its adaptability for deployment in data center environments, making it suitable for both AI training and high-performance computing tasks, with unrestricted support for FP64.
The motives behind Nvidia’s strategy to retain the RTX 6000 Ada in China remain uncertain. Speculation abounds, with suggestions that the company may be contemplating an application for an export license specifically for this professional-grade product, valued at $6,800. Alternatively, it is possible that Nvidia’s partners in China possess substantial existing stock of the RTX 6000 Ada, allowing them to continue sales without disruption. As the ban on the RTX 4090 unfolds, the tech industry awaits further clarification from Nvidia and potential developments in the U.S.-China trade landscape. The intersection of technology, trade regulations, and geopolitical considerations continues to shape the dynamics of the global semiconductor market, with implications for both gaming enthusiasts and professionals in the field of artificial intelligence.