Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Chinese Companies Are Dismantling RTX 4090 Cards To Circumvent US Ban

Ever since the US ban that prohibits China from receiving anymore of NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, among other things, went into effect earlier this month, many Chinese companies have had no choice but get creative in the way they can sell the card. One such method involves them removing manufacturers’ cooler from the card and slapping on a blower-style cooler on it.

Of course, the dismantling process of these RTX 4090 is obviously a little more complicated than that; these companies are reportedly dismantling the GPU at scale, meaning that they are disassembling the GPU core from the PCB en masse, attaching them to different cards, and then slapped with blower-style coolers. Once completed, the new cards are then labelled as “AI Cards” to suggest that they are designed to be used in AI language model training.

As a quick reminder, the US export bans specifically forbids the distribution and sale of the AD102 GPU, which is part and parcel of the RTX 4090. Prior to the ban, NVIDIA had actually managed to rush a large-scale order of GPUs to its AIB partners in China. In anticipation of the ban, Chinese companies had also made a somewhat smart decision to stockpile as many GPUs as physically possible.

Several of the photographs that were taken in one of this “AI Cards” disassembly lines include RTX 4090s procured from brands such as ASUS, PNY, Colorful, Palit, and Zotac. This is undoubtedly an infuriating scenario for gamers that may have been looking forward to procuring said card in China.

Even after stripping the precious RTX 4090’s AD102 GPU from their original PCBs, these Chinese companies don’t appear to waste anything either. Supposedly, they resell the leftover components and naked PCBs as spare parts, which would be beneficial to individuals looking to just upgrade their coolers. For others, they serve as a morbid reminder of where said components originated from.

The unfortunate reality to this hoarding of the RTX 4090 is that, as it stands right now, what these Chinese companies are doing isn’t “technically” against the law in their own country. Further, it has become evident that virtually none of NVIDIA’s board partners actually put fail safes in place to prevent incidents such as this to take place. Worst, NVIDIA itself has a share of the blame for this, by virtue of the GPU brand having created the environment in which these unscrupulous characters are allowed to exist.

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