Nvidia launches new gaming chip for China to comply with US export controls

US chipmaker Nvidia on Thursday launched a modified version of an advanced gaming chip designed to comply with US export controls targeting China.

The chip, which the company says offers a “quantum leap in performance, efficiency and artificial intelligence-driven graphics”, will be available to Chinese customers starting in January, a Nvidia spokesperson told Reuters.

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“The GeForce RTX 4090 D has been designed to fully comply with US government export controls. While developing this product, we extensively engaged with the US government,” the spokesperson said.

The GeForce RTX 4090 D marks the first China-focused chip Nvidia has officially launched since export rules unveiled by the Biden Administration in October meant two modified articial intelligence (AI) chips Nvidia had created for the Chinese market to comply with previous export rules, the A800 and H800, were blocked for sale, as well as a top-of-the-line gaming chip, the RTX 4090.

Chip industry newsletter SemiAnalysis said in early November that Nvidia, in response to the October export rules, could announce three new AI chips aimed at the Chinese market as soon as November 16.

However, Reuters reported late last month that Nvidia told customers in China it was delaying the launch of one of these chips until the first quarter of next year. The remaining two have not yet appeared on Nvidia’s China website.

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Nvidia has commanded more than 90% share of China’s $7 billion AI chip market, and analysts have said the US curbs are likely to create opportunities for domestic firms such as Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL) to make inroads. US Commerce Secretary Raimondo, in an interview with Reuters on December 11, said that Nvidia can sell AI chips to China, just not those with the highest processing power.

Compared to the banned RTX 4090, the China-focused RTX 4090 D is “5% slower in gaming and creating”, according to the Nvidia spokesperson.

The China-focused RTX 4090 D will cost 12,999 yuan ($1,842), 350 yuan ($50) more expensive than the second most advanced chip in the product series available to Chinese customers.