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This Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 contains a bug, literally

YouTube repair channel northwestrepair found an actual bug in an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, prompting an amusing parallel with computing pioneer Grace Hopper.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 bug: an Nvidia GPU with a large, bee-like bug on it appears against a red background.

Usually, when you say you’ve got a bug in your system, you’re talking about a software glitch. Less often, you might mean a hardware bug, such as a defect affecting one of your components. However, in the case of YouTube repair channel, northwestrepair, it found an actual bug in an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090. As in, a real insect.

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Etymologically speaking, bug comes from the Welsh ‘bwg’ (pronounced ‘boog’), referring to an evil spirit. It was first applied to the bedbug, which (like an evil spirit) does terrorize folk at night, before becoming a catch-all term for small insects.

The sense of ‘bug’ as a glitch or defect originates in 19th century engineering. Thomas Edison famously used the term in one of his letters, writing “difficulties arise—this thing gives out and [it is] then that ‘Bugs’—as such little faults and difficulties are called—show themselves.”

But there’s an even more fascinating parallel, as having a literal bug in the system is more common than you might think. In fact, Grace Hopper, who inspired Nvidia‘s Hopper GPU architecture, found a moth trapped in the relay of an early electromechanical computer.

As such, northwestrepair unwittingly found itself the latest entry in a longstanding history of insects and computers when it discovered a bug in an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition sent in for repair.

After spending some time unsure what was causing the card’s malfunctions, northwestrepair opened the core to find a small, winged insect had somehow made its way inside. Case closed. Although it’s hard to know how an insect made its way into the inner workings of a GPU.

Budding entomologists will be disappointed to learn that the exact species of the unlucky insect, which unsurprisingly didn’t survive its time in the graphics card’s core, is uncertain. It’s impossible to ascertain from the footage, and northwestrepair itself says “I don’t know exactly what that thing was,” but “it looked like it had wings.”

We’ll never know. At any rate, the next time you experience a bug in the system, just be grateful there’s not an actual winged insect causing havoc in your GPU.

Although the RTX 4090 is the best graphics card, at least when it comes to pure power, that doesn’t make it immune from mother nature.