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Nvidia Chinese customers will receive a hobbled version of the gaming chip

(Bloomberg) — Nvidia Corp., the world’s most valuable chipmaker, is selling a lower-performance version of its top graphics product aimed at video gamers in China, after the U.S. government tightened restrictions on what the company can market in this country.

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The version of the GTX 4090 D chip offered for sale on Nvidia’s Chinese website has about 10 percent fewer processing cores than the 4090 sold in other countries.

“The GeForce RTX 4090 D has been designed to comply with U.S. government export controls and will only be available at retail in China,” an Nvidia spokesperson said in an email.

CEO Jensen Huang said it would produce versions of its market-leading products for China that would comply with rules imposed by the Biden administration on exports to that country. The United States, seeking to slow progress in China’s artificial intelligence capabilities, is limiting access to specialized chips in that market.

The company said it was “extensively engaged” with the US government during development of the graphics product, which will be available in January.

Compared to the 4090 sold elsewhere, the Chinese model will also feature fewer processing subunits useful for speeding up artificial intelligence workloads, Nvidia said.

Read more: US to tighten rules to prevent advanced chips from entering China

U.S. officials, who have cited national security concerns, are more interested in Nvidia’s AI accelerators, a line currently dominated by the H100. This type of chip, based on technology used in graphics cards, has become the basis for an explosion in AI-enabled hardware among owners of large data centers.

When U.S. export rules were tightened in 2022, Nvidia introduced lower-performance versions of its chips for China. The United States took restrictive measures again in October by further reducing performance thresholds. Nvidia executives responded by saying the company would again renew its offerings for the Asian country, the largest chip market, to bring them into compliance with the new rules.

Nvidia shares rose less than 1% to $497.10 as of 12:25 p.m. in New York. The stock has more than tripled this year, making Nvidia by far the best-performing semiconductor stock in 2023 and the industry’s top company with a $1 trillion market value.

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