U.S. government pulls emergency brake: China will not get high-end graphics processors several7. September 2022
U.S. government pulls emergency brake: China will not get high-end graphics processors several
Washington, Sept. 7, 2022
The U.S. is further restricting shipments to China of high-end graphics processors and AI accelerators used in high-performance computers. The move affects Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices as Washington steps up efforts to slow China’s technological and military progress.
Nvidia confirmed to Nikkei Asia that two of its high-end AI computing chips and one type of its high-performance AI computing system are affected by a new U.S. order. The company said it will seek export control licenses and also talk to customers in China about the issue.
AMD, meanwhile, warned its Chinese subsidiaries last Wednesday that the U.S. chipmaker would suspend some shipments of high-end GPUs to China. AMD confirmed to Nikkei Asia that it had received notice from the U.S. Department of Commerce of new licensing requirements that prevent it from shipping MI250 integrated circuits to China and Russia.
“The only current products that are subject to the new licensing requirements are A100, H100 and systems like DGX that incorporate them,” an Nvidia spokesperson said, referring to the company’s premium AI accelerators that can be used to develop cutting-edge supercomputers. AMD’s MI250 chip is also an AI accelerator.
China responded to the new restrictions by saying it was “firmly” opposed to Washington’s “abuse” of export control measures to stop the supply of chips to China.
“The U.S. practices deviate from the principle of fair competition and violate international economic and trade rules,” Commerce Ministry spokesman Shu Jueting said Thursday. “They not only harm the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, but will also seriously affect U.S. companies.”
In August, the U.S. restricted exports of the most advanced chip design software in an effort to slow Chinese efforts to produce cutting-edge chips locally. The chief executives of two leading U.S. semiconductor equipment suppliers, Lam Research and KLA, confirmed at their earnings conferences that the U.S. has further restricted the supply of machines that can be used to make chips larger than 14 nanometers in diameter.
Currently, the world’s leading chipmakers – Intel, TSMC and Samsung – are in a race to produce 3-nanometer chips using the latest chip production technologies. Chips with smaller nanometer sizes are more powerful, but also more difficult to develop.
A research report published in June by Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging ATechnology shows that the Chinese military still relies heavily on U.S. technologies and advanced chip manufacturing capabilities in Taiwan and South Korea to procure its AI chips.
Of the 97 individual AI chips identified in the documents, almost all were developed by Nvidia, Xilinx (now an AMD company), Intel or Microsemi, the report said. By comparison, the Georgetown team could find no public records of PLA units or government defense contractors placing orders for high-end AI chips developed by Chinese companies such as HiSilicon (Huawei), Sugon, Sunway, Hygon or Phytium.
Several Nikkei Asia interviewees expressed their conviction that these restrictions would affect China’s “China is a big buyer of GPUs for both artificial intelligence and high-performance computing chip products,” said Dylan Patel, principal analyst at Semianalysis. The new restrictions, he added, “will significantly slow China’s aspirations to be a leader in AI and [high-performance computing].