The Biden administration has started quite the underground AI GPU business in China, with many Chinese companies disassembling and reassembling GeForce RTX 4090 cards and turning them into AI GPUs with much higher prices.
US sanctions have all but stopped the AI hardware business in China, with even lower-end H20 GPUs that were cut down from Hopper GPU architecture delayed from launching this month and now into February/March 2024. Well, Chinese companies are now taking apart never-released graphics cards, including the GeForce RTX 3080 20GB and Radeon RX 580 16GB.
I was tagged in a new tweet by I_Leak_VN, who pointed me towards Chinese companies taking apart RTX 4090 cards and turning them into AI accelerators about new cards being used. NVIDIA never released its GeForce RTX 3080 20GB variant, but it was planned along the way, and now Chinese companies are using ex-crypto mining GPUs like the unreleased RTX 3080 20GB.
Why? Because the RTX 3080 20GB has lots of VRAM -- which is both good for crypto mining, and for AI applications -- and it's cheaper than the RTX 3090, which has 24GB of VRAM. The official RTX 3080 has 10GB of VRAM, so the RTX 3080 20GB is a fantastic option for Chinese companies to turn it into an AI accelerator and make some (big) money.
20GB of memory on the RTX 3080 isn't easy, as it requires physical and software mods. This is something we saw achieved months ago now, with RTX 3080 20GB cards on Chinese markets for $600 or so a year ago now. They were for crypto mining back then, and not AI... now that the AI boom is here and China has its hands tied begin its back, the RTX 3080 20GB is now $900+ in China.
AMD originally launched its Radeon RX 580 graphics card with 8GB of VRAM, but there are now repurposed, used RX 580 cards on the market with upgraded memory: 16GB of VRAM. Once again, great for crypto mining and even better on an AI accelerator.
Chinese companies are taking the RX 580 cards apart, cleaning them up from their old crypto mining operations they were used for previously, and turned into AI accelerators. Because they've been thrashed on crypto mining, the card -- and probably those memory modules -- could stop functioning, or error... which is not ideal for AI at all, at any time. But, some companies in China are offering a two-year warranty with these cards, but we'll see how that goes when people have issues down the line.
Now that the US sanctions are causing cards like the RTX 4090 being turned into an AI accelerator, old RTX 3090 cards to be turned into AI accelerators, and now even unreleased RTX 3080 20GB and RX 580 16GB models... it won't stop. China will be China, and we'll see some funky new cards that have been repurposed for AI in the coming months.