In a surprising turn of events, the US government has imposed restrictions on Nvidia’s fastest gaming GPU, the GeForce RTX 4090, preventing its sale in China due to concerns related to artificial intelligence (AI) applications. This move has prompted Nvidia to pull RTX 4090 listings from its Chinese website, requiring the company and its partners to obtain an export license from the US Department of Commerce to ship these products to China.
Nvidia’s Export Restrictions
The GeForce RTX 4090, renowned as one of the top-performing graphics cards, is powered by the AD102 graphics processing unit, boasting a substantial processing performance score of 5,280. This high score, based on its FP8 Tensor FLOPS performance of 660 TFLOPS, designates the RTX 4090 as an export-licensable item, as its Total Power Performance (TPP) exceeds 4,800. To sell the GeForce RTX 4090 in China, Nvidia, and its partners now face the hurdle of obtaining an export license, with applications being subject to a presumption of denial.
The Challenge for RTX 4090 in China
Given the stringent review process for export license applications, it appears that Nvidia is hesitant to pursue sales of the GeForce RTX 4090 in China. The complexities associated with obtaining export licenses may have influenced the company’s decision to remove any mention of the consumer-oriented graphics card from its Chinese website.
RTX 6000 Ada Generation: A Surprising Exception
Despite the challenges faced by the GeForce RTX 4090, Nvidia’s Chinese website continues to feature listings for the RTX 6000 Ada Generation graphics card. This workstation-grade solution, equipped with the AD102 graphics processing unit and 18,176 CUDA cores, boasts a higher total processing performance score of 5,828. Surprisingly, this graphics card, priced at $6,800, is not subjected to the same export restrictions as the GeForce RTX 4090.
AI-Focused Capabilities of RTX 6000 Ada
The RTX 6000 Ada Generation is well-suited for AI applications, featuring 48 GB of memory and a compact blower cooling system. With a processing performance score based on its 728.5 FP8 TFLOPS performance without sparsity, the RTX 6000 Ada outshines the consumer-oriented RTX 4090 in AI training and inference tasks. Its compatibility with data centre environments and support for FP64 without constraints further enhance its appeal for high-performance computing.
The Puzzling Decision
The decision to continue offering the RTX 6000 Ada Generation in China raises questions about Nvidia’s strategy. It remains unclear whether the company plans to apply for an export license to maintain the sale of this high-end product in the People’s Republic. Alternatively, Nvidia’s partners may already have a substantial stock of RTX 6000 Ada cards in China, allowing them to continue sales despite the restrictions on the GeForce RTX 4090.
The US government’s ban on the sale of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4090 in China has significant implications for the gaming and AI communities. While the export restrictions present a formidable challenge for the consumer-oriented GPU, the surprising exemption of the RTX 6000 Ada Generation suggests a complex and nuanced landscape. As Nvidia navigates the regulatory hurdles, the fate of its flagship GPUs in the Chinese market remains uncertain, leaving enthusiasts and professionals alike eagerly anticipating the resolution of this intricate situation.