NVIDIA RTX 4090 exports to China to be banned after all
Several reports confirm that the U.S. export restriction on the leading RTX 4090 graphics processing unit is set to be implemented on the scheduled date of November 17th.
In a new SEC filing, NVIDIA confirmed that new export licensing restrictions have been implemented for their high-end data-center products, which prohibit the shipment of these products to certain countries, including China. Notably, while the initial October 17 SEC filing mentioned the RTX 4090 GPU, a subsequent filing on the matter omitted any reference to this card. This has generated a fair amount of speculation and reports (our included) suggesting that the RTX 4090 may potentially be excluded from the restricted list. That is not the case.
According to reports from China, the company will only be able to export the RTX 4090 GPU to China and other countries within the same group for a month after the restrictions were initially announced. This means that, unlike the data-center products such as A100, H100, A800, and H800, the RTX 4090 can still be shipped to China, but only for the next two weeks.
According to the latest information, multiple AIC brands have confirmed that the RTX 4090 series will be completely banned from sales in the country after November 17th. It is advisable for everyone to purchase and cherish them while they are still available. […] It is reported that, in order to sell more units before the ban, various graphics card brands are increasing their shipments of the RTX 4090 series.
— MyDrivers (translation)
Multiple NVIDIA AIC partners have confirmed that the ban on NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 remains as previously stated in the export restriction list. The ban is set to take effect 30 days after the announcement on October 17th, which means the exact date should be November 16th in U.S. time.
— Benchlife (translation)
A change in rules is difficult to predict with constantly evolving U.S. laws. However, a significant quantity of AD102 GPUs is being sent to China by NVIDIA as precautionary measures, claim the reports. This move aims to ensure the continued volume production of these cards in the coming weeks.
The pressing issue at hand is how NVIDIA can respond to these restrictions. To recap, the new regulations aim to restrict access to high-performance GPUs in certain countries, primarily to prevent the potential military applications of such chips. U.S. regulators have set a limit at 4800 TOPS of compute power, which encompasses all processing capabilities. Consequently, RTX 4090 and most AD102-based cards have been banned for exports.
One potential course of action for NVIDIA is to adjust the compute power to comply with the new criteria or release a BIOS update that reduces certain capabilities. Notably, NVIDIA previously implemented a Lite Hash Rate limit on their RTX 30 series for cryptomining, but that limitation was eventually bypassed. NVIDIA is also expected to launch a new RTX 40 SUPER series sometime early next year, but thus far no reports were given on potential RTX 4090 update.