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AMD reportedly faces US regulatory hurdle for China-friendly chip


A smartphone with an AMD logo displayed is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken on March 6, 2023.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

American semiconductor company Advanced microsystems failed to get an AI chip designed for China past U.S. regulators and will have to apply for an export license, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

The report said AMD designed the chip to have lower performance than its high-end products in order to comply with U.S. export restrictions. But Bloomberg reported that the Commerce Department had not authorized the chip to be sold in China because it was still too advanced.

AMD will now need to obtain a license from the ministry’s Industry and Security Bureau, the report said.

It is unclear whether the company will apply for the license. AMD and the Bureau of Industry and Commerce Security did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

While the United States has limited sales of products containing the country’s most advanced semiconductor technologies to China, citing national security concerns, American companies have continued to sell mature or less advanced technologies into the market. massive without license.

AMD’s products include chips that can be used to develop and train AI models – something US officials have warned Beijing could use to gain military advantages.

AMD CEO Lisa Su: AI is the most important technology to emerge in the last 50 years

In 2022, the administration of US President Joe Biden unveiled a first round of export controls to curb China’s rise. access to advanced semiconductor technologies. Leading company in the field of AI chips Nvidia later said it would sell slowed-down versions of its high-end AI chips that comply with U.S. restrictions.

However, these chips were also banned in October, when the United States expanded restrictions to include more technology and target chips that were considered to circumvent controls.

Nvidia has since redesigned products be less powerful so that the Chinese market aligns with the 2023 restrictions.

Before the October restrictions, Nvidia had warned that new U.S. restrictions on exports of its chips to China would risk a “permanent loss” for U.S. semiconductor companies seeking to dominate one of the world’s largest markets.

During Nvidia’s November earnings call, Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said China and other regions targeted by U.S. export controls had consistently contributed about 20% to 25%. to data center revenues in recent quarters. While Nvidia reported blockbuster fourth-quarter results, Kress noted during the February earnings call that data center revenue from China had declined significantly as a result of U.S. export restrictions.

Compared to Nvidia, AMD had a smaller presence in China’s AI chip market before the trade restrictions. But the company has begun targeting the AI ​​chip market more aggressively, launching a new MI300 product line that is seen as a challenge to Nvidia’s GPU products.

It is unclear for which Chinese customers AMD designed the chips. Some major Chinese tech giants, such as Tencent reportedly stockpiled enough of Nvidia’s advanced chips to train their AI chatbots’ capabilities for “at least a few more generations“.

Meanwhile, US-sanctioned Huawei is reportedly develop its own chips and chip manufacturing toolsalongside other domestic companies, as Chinese companies attempt to fill the void created by U.S. restrictions.

Despite limited sales in China, shares of Nvidia and AMD have soared amid AI frenzy. Nvidia is up over 250% over the past year, while AMD has surged over 150%.

Read the full Bloomberg report.


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