After RTX 4090, China doubles 3080 VRAM to appeal to AI

AI is the new crypto mining.

Modified RTX 3080 graphics card with 20GB of VRAM and a blower style cooler.

Chinese companies are adapting Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics cards for AI by adding more VRAM. Each GPU sees its memory capacity doubled to fit AI models. Some are even being sold to gamers who are welling to take a risk.

It seems that repurposing RTX 4090 GPUs for AI workloads isn’t enough to respond to the growing demand for AI acceleration hardware. I_Leak_VN has once again shared pictures of modified RTX 3080 cards featuring, you guessed it, a blower style cooler. But that’s not all, these graphics card, or should we say ‘AI accelerators’ have been upgraded with double the VRAM. This means that their memory capacity has been augmented from 10GB to 20GB of GDDR6X.

Swapping VRAM chips for higher density ones isn’t something new. We’ve already seen it many times previously, for example on an RTX 3070 which got a 16GB treatment.

Once more, the blower type cooler is preferred in this scenario as these cards are destined to be tightly crammed inside a server rack. This design ensures that most if not all hot air is exhausted outside of the chassis. While practical to achieve similar performance to our beloved triple fan gaming designs, this lonely blower fan needs to run at much higher speeds, thus causing more noise. Thankfully, no one will hear them where they are going.

Note that this is not the first nor probably the last RTX card to be modified for other tasks. Lately, the RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti have also been fitted with a similar cooler to help with the demand. The only recurring factor seems to be the inclusion of a lot of VRAM to support AI’s large language models (LLM). The latter also explains why the RTX 3080 was upgraded with double the memory.

Logically, these cards should reach the second-hand market when they become obsolete for AI tasks. You can expect to eventually grab one for a reasonable price. Though, we don’t know if there will be any driver limitations, or if official Nvidia updates will work seamlessly. If you want one now, you can get it from AliExpress for $1,393.