New US rules blocking the export of most artificial intelligence chips to China will build upon a sweeping set of restrictions introduced in October 2022.
Nvidia makes sought-after AI chips like the H100, and the AI boom has proven to be profitable as its valuation has expanded beyond $1 trillion. Last year’s restrictions meant the US-based company couldn’t sell the H100 to China, so it introduced a lower-specced H800 that could get around the US’s rules — but with the new rules, Nvidia won’t be able to sell that chip or its A800 chip to China, CNBC reports.
These new restrictions “are necessary to maintain the effectiveness of these controls, close loopholes, and ensure they remain durable,” according to a press release from the Department of Commerce.
“Today’s updated rules will increase effectiveness of our controls and further shut off pathways to evade our restrictions,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “These controls maintain our clear focus on military applications and confront the threats to our national security posed by the PRC Government’s military-civil fusion strategy.” You can see details of the rules on the Bureau of Industry and Security’s website.
Chips designed for artificial intelligence are in high demand as companies throw massive amounts of resources at new AI hardware and software products.
In a statement, Nvidia said that it’s not too worried about the restrictions affecting its business. “We comply with all applicable regulations while working to provide products that support thousands of applications across many different industries,” said Nvidia spokesperson Ken Brown. “Given the demand worldwide for our products, we don’t expect a near-term meaningful impact on our financial results.” The company also published an 8-K detailing some of the ways the rules are expected to impact the company.
Intel spokesperson Sarah Keller said the company is “reviewing the rules and assessing the potential impact.” AMD didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Semiconductor Industry Association is “evaluating the impact of the updated export controls on the U.S. semiconductor industry,” it said in a statement. “We recognize the need to protect national security and believe maintaining a healthy U.S. semiconductor industry is an essential component to achieving that goal. Overly broad, unilateral controls risk harming the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem without advancing national security as they encourage overseas customers to look elsewhere. Accordingly, we urge the administration to strengthen coordination with allies to ensure a level playing field for all companies.”
“We have made our position clear on US restrictions of chip exports to China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a press conference on Monday. (Reuters had reported on the at-the-time forthcoming changes.) “The US needs to stop politicizing and weaponizing trade and tech issues and stop destabilizing global industrial and supply chains. We will closely follow the developments and firmly safeguard our rights and interests.”
The announcement of the new rules followed Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent visit to a Chinese Apple Store hosting a tournament for the popular Tencent mobile game Honor of Kings. He posted a short video of the visit to his Weibo account.
Update October 17th, 7:12PM ET: Added Nvidia’s 8-K.