Nvidia produces a mysterious new powerful professional graphics card for the Chinese market only — something tells me there may be more coming

a nvidia gpu chip
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The latest list of drivers for Nvidia's professional graphics cards included the addition of support for an RTX 5880 Ada Generation unit. The only problem is that this exact item doesn't actually exist yet – meaning it could well be a product the firm has created specifically to sell in China.

The product's model number is incredibly close to the flagship board, designed for professional visualization, according to Tom's Hardware, and could be designed to skirt around trade restrictions the US government imposed in November.

The US blocked Nvidia from selling the latest graphics cards based on the 5nm AD102 GPU, meaning sales of the high-end Nvidia RTX 6000 Ada workstation GPU – an extremely powerful GPU – and the GeForce RTX 4090 were banned entirely. 

Overcoming GPU trade barriers

The firm has already laid the groundwork for selling an alternative to the latter – known as the GeForce RTX 4090 D, which is based on the AD102-250 GPU, according to Tweak Town. It's also likely the forthcoming RTX 5880 graphics card is a slightly tuned-down version of the RTX 6000 Ada workstation graphics card.

The AD102 GPU has 18,1876 CUDA cores and 48GB of GDDR6 RAM in the RTX 6000 cards, while the RTX 5000 boards are powered by an AD102 GPU that has 12,800 CUDA cores and 32GB of GDDR6 RAM.

What's banned from sale or not depends on the total processing power, which is assigned a numeric score. Anything above 4,800 is banned – and this includes the RTX 6000 GPUs, which have a score of 5,828. The RTX 5000 GPUs, by contrast, have a score of 4,178. 

This unlisted RTX 5880 graphics card, of which little else is known, will likely fall below the threshold for being prohibited for distribution in China. As such, its performance won't hit the heights of the RTX 6000 family but it's certain to be better than the RTX 5000 series GPUs.

Should the launch of the RTX 5880 and GeForce RTX 4090 D graphics cards prove a commercial success, it's likely Nvidia will build on this trial run and attempt to create more alternative, sanctions-safe GPUs to sell in the Chinese market.

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Keumars Afifi-Sabet
Channel Editor (Technology), Live Science

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is the Technology Editor for Live Science. He has written for a variety of publications including ITPro, The Week Digital and ComputerActive. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, having previously held the role of features editor with ITPro. In his previous role, he oversaw the commissioning and publishing of long form in areas including AI, cyber security, cloud computing and digital transformation.