The US will take steps to prevent American chip makers from selling products to China that circumvent government restrictions, a US official said, as part of the Biden administration’s coming actions to effectively block more AI chip exports.
- The new rules will be added to sweeping US restrictions on shipments of advanced chips and chipmaking equipment to China unveiled last October.
- The updates are expected this week.
- Nvidia is the world’s most valuable chipmaker.
The new rules, details of which Reuters is reporting for the first time, will be added to sweeping US restrictions on shipments of advanced chips and chipmaking equipment to China unveiled last October. The updates are expected this week, other people familiar with the matter said, though such timetables often slip.
The latest crackdown on tech exports to China coincides with US efforts to thaw difficult relations between the world’s two largest economies. Several senior members of the Biden administration have met their Chinese counterparts in recent months, and the latest round of rules risks complicating the diplomatic effort.
Chips meant for consumer products such as laptops will be exempt from the new curbs, the official said.
A spokesperson for the US Department of Commerce, which oversees export controls, declined to comment.
Last year government restrictions kept Nvidia, the world’s most valuable chip maker, from shipping two of its most advanced AI chips to Chinese customers, chips that have become the industry standard for developing chatbots and other AI systems.
But Nvidia soon released new variants for the Chinese market that were less sophisticated and got around the US export controls. One, named the H800, has as much computing power at some settings used in AI work, as the company’s more powerful but blocked H100 chip. Still, some key performance aspects are limited, according to a specification sheet seen by Reuters.
The US now plans to introduce new guidelines for AI chips that will restrict certain advanced data centre AI chips not currently captured, the official said.
While the US official declined to identify which additional chips will be effectively banned, Nvidia’s H800 is a semiconductor several sources have said the administration has wanted to block.