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Nvidia opens Hardware Grant Programme – which doesn't mean RTX 30 series cards

Teachers and researchers offered workstation, embedded, and data-processing gear instead

Nvidia has opened its Hardware Grant Programme, offering those in academia the chance to pick up high-performance processors for their computing needs – so long as they're not after the company's latest RTX 30xx parts anyway.

"The Nvidia Hardware Grant Programme helps advance AI and data science by partnering with academic institutions around the world to enable researchers and educators with industry-leading hardware and software," claimed Rebecca Nevin, academic programme lead at Nvidia.

"Applicants can request compute support from a large portfolio of Nvidia products. Awardees of this highly selective program will receive a hardware donation to use in their teaching or research."

A "large portfolio," perhaps, but not an exhaustive one. "Please note," Nevin warned, "Nvidia RTX 30 Series GPUs are not available through the Academic Hardware Grant Programme."

That should come as no surprise, of course: the launch of the Nvidia RTX 3080 was marred by supply issues, as was the bigger RTX 3090, and every card the company has launched since. A combination of ongoing chip supply shortages throughout the industry, scalpers running bot farms to hoover up what little stock there is, demand from the cryptocurrency mining market despite attempts to limit performance, and everyone else being desperate for a break from reality in a game or six has Nvidia still struggling to meet demand nearly a year later.

Although stock is beginning to appear, thanks in no small part to China's crackdown on mining, the cards are still selling out as quickly as retailers can get them on shelves – and Nvidia is clearly not keen on eating into its profit margins by giving away any of the in-demand parts.

What Nvidia is offering those lucky enough to be selected is hardware from the company's RTX-branded workstation GPU line-up, based on the same Ampere architecture as its RTX 30xx cards, developer kits for its Jetson embedded range, and high-performance BlueField Data Processing Units (DPUs).

"Alternatively," the company advised in the paperwork for potential applicants, "certain projects may be awarded with cloud compute credits instead of physical hardware."

Those looking to apply will need to be a faculty or PhD researcher at a recognised university or other research institute, and "demonstrate clear understanding of how to use Nvidia technology to accelerate research and significantly impact the success of a project."

Another route into the grant programme is through education, with Nvidia hoping to get 'em while they're young by offering teachers and administrators at colleges, universities, primary and secondary schools, or non-profit STEM organisations free hardware in exchange for a promise to use Nvidia's software development kits and to "give students a hands-on opportunity to hone skills."

Nvidia's opening of grant applications comes less than a month after rival AMD launched its own academic programme aimed at tempting boffins away from Nvidia's CUDA ecosystem. The AMD Instinct Education and Research (AIER) initiative offers members a range of benefits, including "grants and/or hardware discounts" – though these are by no means guaranteed.

More details on Nvidia's grant programme, applications for which are open until 23 July, are available on the application page. ®

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