Nvidia has unveiled the RTX 4090D, a modified version of its high-end GeForce RTX 4090 GPU designed to adhere to the newly enforced US export controls. The RTX 4090D features a reduced core count, delivering approximately 10.94 percent less performance compared to the internationally available model.
Compliance with US Export Regulations
In order to comply with the stipulations outlined by the Biden Administration in October, Nvidia took action to ensure the RTX 4090D remained within the permissible total processing performance (TPP) for consumer graphics cards. The original RTX 4090 exceeded the limit of 4,800 with a TPP of 5,285, which triggered a license requirement for sales in China. The reduction in performance of the 4090D variant has successfully brought the unit below the threshold that necessitates a license.
The RTX 4090D showcases lower CUDA cores, counting 14,592 as opposed to the 16,384 available in the version sold elsewhere. The tensor core count also sees a decrease from 512 to 456. Despite these modifications, the 4090D retains peak clock speeds of up to 2.52 GHz, as well as the original 24 GB of GDDR6x memory and a 384-bit memory bus.
In contingency with the modifications, Nvidia asserts that the performance reduction is minimal, especially in applications such as 4K gaming with ray tracing and DLSS, where the RTX 4090D performs only about five percent slower than the original RTX 4090. The company also points out that users have the capability to overclock the GPU, potentially recovering some of the performance lost due to the decreased core count.
Strategic Product Adjustments in Response to Export Control
Historically, this is not the first instance where Nvidia has tailored its products to meet specific export control requirements. Similar adjustments have been made in the past, such as modifying the A100's interconnect speed and relaunching it as the A800, followed by an updated H100 named the H800. These changes illustrate the company's strategic flexibility in product design to remain compliant with trade regulations.
The Commerce Secretary of the United States, Gina Raimondo, has previously expressed caution towards chip manufacturers regarding attempts to circumvent the imposed restrictions. Nvidia's compliance and collaborative efforts with the Commerce Department reflect its commitment to both adhere to export regulations and maintain a presence in the Chinese market.