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NVIDIA will sell a nerfed version of its A100 GPU to China to clear export restrictions

By Kenny Yeo - on 9 Nov 2022, 9:39am

NVIDIA will sell a nerfed version of its A100 GPU to China to clear export restrictions

(Image source: NVIDIA)

NVIDIA is releasing a cut-down version of its high-end A100 GPU to get around US export restrictions to countries like China and Russia.

The card will be called the A800 and even though it will have the same incredible computing power as the A100, it will be limited in its abilities to communicate with other cards in a computing cluster.

Compared to the 600GB/s speed of the A100, the A800's interconnect bandwidth will be limited to 400GB/s. It's still a big amount but it should have a significant impact on its performance when used in a supercomputer cluster.

The US government is concerned that powerful chips like the A100 and A800 could be used to create automated targeting systems for drones or facial recognition systems for mass surveillance.

An NVIDIA spokesperson said:

The Nvidia A800 GPU, which went into production in Q3, is another alternative product to the Nvidia A100 GPU for customers in China. The A800 meets the U.S. Government’s clear test for reduced export control and cannot be programmed to exceed it.

The last part is important because back during the cryptocurrency craze when people were buying graphics cards faster than they could be made, NVIDIA released cards with hash rate limiters that restricted the cards' ability to mine cryptocurrency. It didn't take long before miners got around these limiters. 

China is obviously a significant market for NVIDIA and it is estimated that these restrictions could cost the company up to US$400 million in quarterly sales if they did not come up with an alternative product or if the US government did not grant exemptions.

Furthermore, about a quarter of NVIDIA's US$26.9 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year came from China and Hong Kong.

Source: Reuters via The Verge

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