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US clamps down on advanced chip exports to China and Russia

Restrictions affect high-end GPUs made by Nvidia and AMD

Nvidia. (Reuters photo)

Nvidia. (Reuters photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. is imposing new export restrictions on high-end computer chips to China and Russia that Washington fears could be used for possible military applications.

The restrictions affect advanced graphics processing units (GPUs) produced by Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), according to The New York Times (NYT). The two companies reported the new restrictions in statements released on Wednesday (Aug. 31), according to Reuters.

The Nvidia and AMD chips restricted by the U.S. government are used for AI and machine learning applications that can be used to build training modules, Reuters said. These modules could also be used for militaries in modeling bomb simulations and designing weapons, per Reuters.

Nvidia said the ban would affect its A100 and H100 chips in China, which are meant to speed up machine learning functions, while AMD said its MI250 artificial intelligence chips would be banned for export to China. Nvidia also said on Wednesday the restrictions could alter development of its flagship H100 chip.

Reuters cited Nvidia as saying Washington told them the new rule “will address the risk that products may be used in, or diverted to, a ‘military end use’ or ‘military end user’ in China.”

According to the NYT, Nvidia has many Chinese customers and said the new export curbs would affect around US$400 million in revenue this quarter, while the company does not sell products in Russia. Meanwhile, AMD said it did not believe the new measures would have a material effect on its business.

On Thursday (Sept. 1), Nvidia said the U.S. government had cleared exports and tech transfer needed to finish the development of the H100 chip, according to Reuters. Authorities have cleared the company to carry out exports needed to provide support for American customers of A100 through March 1, 2023, while it will also be allowed to complete orders of the chips through its Hong Kong facility through Sept. 1, 2023, Reuters said.

Chinese customers are still required to apply for licenses from the U.S. government for the chips, Nvidia said.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Thursday criticized the U.S. for abusing export control measures to restrict the export of chip-related items to China and claimed the move would “hinder international scientific and technological exchanges and economic cooperation, and have an impact on the stability of global industrial and supply chains and the recovery of the world economy,” according to the NYT.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the U.S. Commerce Department told the NYT it was carrying out a review of its China policies and that it might adopt new restrictions to keep advanced technologies out of the wrong hands, per NYT.