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Nvidia RTX 4090 GPUs being transformed into AI cards in China

Pallet loads of Nvidia's top-tier gaming GPUs are being converted to AI-server friendly versions - the crypto boom is turning into the AI boom.

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Hundreds if not thousands of Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics cards are being converted from gaming GPUs to AI cards in dedicated factories in China, according to a new report. With China facing a ban on imports of top-tier AI-processing chips and RTX 4090s, existing gaming cards are being converted to become dedicated AI processors.

The factories are reportedly receiving pallets of the chart-topping best graphics cards and removing the key components before mounting them on cards with blower-style coolers that are better suited to multi-gpu, AI-server setups.

The report, which comes from Baidu forums in China and via wccftech, comes from an insider who has posted several images of the assembly line that’s doing the conversions. The images clearly show stacks of boxed Gainward and Palit RTX 4090 models with cards from other partners, such as Asus, shown being processed.

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Also clearly visible are the stripped PCBs of the original boards, with the most expensive, key components – the GPU and VRAM – removed so they can be placed onto generic boards to be used with the blower coolers.

In advance of the RTX 4090 china ban, Nvidia was reportedly shipping extra stock of its GPUs to board partners in the region to ensure graphics card supply was maintained. However, while positively intentioned that move might have been, it appears as though other people had different ideas, with seemingly hundreds of these fresh graphics cards being snapped up for other uses.

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In all likelihood, RTX 4090 availability and pricing looks set to be not overly disturbed by the China ban but it’s troubling to see this sort of activity going on, in turn suggesting we could be in line for another era of extra strain on the graphics card supply chain.

At the very least, it seems unlikely too many shops will be offering major discounts on RTX 4090 cards for Black Friday. Thankfully, though, there are offers on plenty of other cards, such as the far more affordable RTX 4070, along with many other products too, which you can find on on Black Friday PC deals page.

Are you concerned by these goings on in China? Or is it all just fair-game entrepreneurship? Let us know your thoughts on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and tap into the knowledge of our 400,000+ members.