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Nvidia to Launch a Slower Gaming Processor for China to Navigate U.S. Export Controls

Nvidia, a major U.S. chipmaker, is preparing to introduce a modified gaming processor in China to comply with U.S. export regulations. This new variant, named Nvidia RTX 4090D, slated for release in January, exhibits an 11% reduction in “CUDA” cores compared to its counterparts sold outside China, as indicated on Nvidia’s Chinese consumer product page.

The RTX series represents Nvidia’s advanced gaming GPUs, while its CUDA architecture mirrors CPU cores in functionality. According to a Reuters report, a Nvidia spokesperson highlighted that the altered chip aligns with U.S. export controls, emphasizing the company’s extensive collaboration with U.S. authorities during the product’s development.

Export restrictions imposed by Washington on China target advanced chips that facilitate AI applications, encompassing gaming-focused processors due to their potential AI utility. Notably, Nvidia’s RTX 4090 appeared on the list of banned U.S.-made chips in an SEC filing.

The U.S. has been increasingly strict about banning the export of advanced AI accelerators and other high-performance chips to China. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently warned chipmakers about attempts to work around these sanctions, stating at the Reagan National Defense Forum that “if you redesign a chip around a particular cut line that enables them to do AI, I’m going to control it the very next day.”

Despite these challenges, Nvidia’s stock has significantly surged in 2023, experiencing a more than threefold increase. The company’s momentum stems from amplified demand for AI, partly fueled by the notable attention garnered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot.

Chinese enterprises readied themselves to counter American sanctions. Key tech giants like Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent, and Alibaba swiftly acquired up to $5 billion worth of Nvidia hardware prior to Raimondo’s actions, a trend mirrored by smaller businesses.

Nevertheless, Secretary Raimondo’s alerts signal an ongoing U.S. scrutiny and potential restrictions on Nvidia products facilitating AI acceleration. Despite this intricate maneuvering in technology export dynamics between the superpowers, enthusiasts can, at the very least, enjoy running their PC games at peak settings.

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