Chinese companies are repurposing GeForce RTX 4090s into AI GPUs

Companies are circumventing the US tech export ban to China by creating blower AI accelerators from Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards.

Chinese companies are creating makeshift AI graphics cards by modifying Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 stock to have blower-style coolers. The US ban on exporting AI technology to China is forcing Chinese retailers to get creative to continue meeting market demand for AI products.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is the most powerful gaming graphics card, but it’s not known for its AI functionality, although it can be used for AI workloads in a pinch. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the AI chip-starved Chinese market has turned to the high-end Nvidia gaming GPU to meet demand.

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Tech leaker I_Leak_VN shared several images of these makeshift AI graphics cards from the Xianyu app on Twitter. These products are created by dismantling existing RTX 4090 cards to retrieve the GPU and GDDR6X chips.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 AI graphics cards China ban: a tweet from @I_Leak_VN showing makeshift AI GPUs at a factory.

As AI server farms tend to include numerous graphics cards stacked next to each other, the standard four-slot PCIe gaming card isn’t suitable. So, the Chinese factories modify them to a ‘blower-style’ design with a smaller cooler to reduce the footprint down to two slots. According to I_Leak_VN, retailers have been taking advantage of the AI ban to inflate prices by double.

If you’re not in China, you can have your pick of the bunch, although prices of RTX 4090s have inflated somewhat thanks to this ban. Still, other GPUs are mostly unaffected, with some great deals on the best graphics cards if you’re looking for an upgrade.