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NVIDIA and US discuss AI chip sales to China amid restrictions

Written by Thu 14 Dec 2023

The US is in talks with NVIDIA regarding the potential sale of artificial intelligence (AI) chips to China, but stressed that the most advanced NVIDIA semiconductors cannot be sold to Chinese firms. 

Speaking to Reuters, US Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, asserted that NVIDIA has the capability and should sell AI chips to China. She emphasised the US’ focus is on commercial applications rather than advanced technologies with potential national security implications.

“What we cannot allow them to ship is the most sophisticated, highest-processing power AI chips, which would enable China to train their frontier models,” added Raimondo.

The Secretary of Commerce said she spoke to the CEO of NVIDIA, Jensen Huang, who asserted the company is ‘crystal clear’ and does not want to break the rules.

“Tell us the rules, we will work with you,” said Huang.

On Monday, Raimondo said the US Commerce Department was working with NVIDIA. Raimondo stated the company wants to do the right thing, but they also want to sell as many chips as possible.

Last week, Reuters reported that Huang said NVIDIA was working with the US Government to ensure compliance with export restrictions for new chips intended for the Chinese market.

US Secretary of Commerce Warns Chip Companies

Last week, Raimondo, issued a warning to chip companies about AI chips.

Raimondo said the US Department of Commerce usually sets chip limits, and chip companies often develop new chips with performance that reaches just below that defined line. 

“I am telling you if you redesign a chip around a particular cutline that enables them to do AI, I am going to control it the very next day,” said Raimondo.

The news followed the US curb of the export of advanced AI chips to China on 23 October. According to NVIDIA, these restrictions were expedited as regulators advanced the deadline.

The new rules were anticipated to come into effect on 16 November, 30 days after the Biden administration’s announcement on 17 October.

Both NVIDIA’s AI chips, the A800 and H800, are affected by the decision. These chips were customised for the Chinese market to meet previous export rules implemented in 2022.

Image Credit: Reuters

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Written by Thu 14 Dec 2023

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