Old NVIDIA GPU’s Being Repurposed Into AI Accelerators in China

The US has invoked some export control over China which restricts the sale of the fastest consumer and professional GPUs, mostly NVIDIA, which has in turn led to some interesting methods of skirting around the effects of the rules. A lot of these methods have involved repurposing older cards including the RTX 3080 which has been repurposed into an AI card featuring 20GB of VRAM and a blower style cooler.

Chinese RTX 3080 AI Cards

As shared by TomsHardware, leaker I_Leak_VN has shared some photos of an 3080 20G AI Blower that they found on Xianyu, a reselling platform. The photos show an unbranded plain blower style card with afor NVIDIA RTX3080 20GB GDDR6X AI. The listing also shows GPU-Z photos to prove the card is ready and works with its full modded 20GB of VRAM.

Alongside the photos shared from Xianyu, there is also a listing on Aliexpress which shows this card but with JIESHUO branding. The full name also states Turbo Gaming despite the clear AI focus of this graphics card. The listing is also quite expensive at £758.80 so it is definitely not something we would be considering over here in the UK or US ($916.62), but for people in China affected by the sanctions, this is probably the best deal they can get.

RTX 3090 Blower

Even the RTX 3090 is getting the same treatment as the 3080 and being repurposed into AI accelerators with blower coolers. The 3090 already has 24GB of VRAM so there has been no need for any modifications like the 3080, but this card again shared by I_Leak_VN, has been given the non-descript blower style cooler making it ideal in server systems with several GPUs installed.

These cards are suspected to have come from ex-mining systems and should fill the gap that the sanctions will leave in the Chinese markets, though how effective this will be all depends on how long the sanctions will last.

Jakob Aylesbury

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