Nvidia might be making AI chips to get around Chinese sanctions
Tightened restrictions on the export of semiconductors have heightened rumors Nvidia is working on new AI chips specifically for the Chinese market.
Last year, the US government introduced new rules for the export of computer chips that were meant for applications such as AI, machine learning, and supercomputers.
In an effort to keep these powerful chips out of the hands of the Russian or Chinese military, Nvidia chips such as the A100 and H100 were restricted from export. Now Nvidia is trying out new chips to circumvent the rules.
A market too big to ignore
China is a huge market with a rapidly developing economy, and therefore not one that Nvidia feels it can afford to ignore.
However, the newly tightened regulations regarding the computing power that a chip can have when it is meant for export have put Nvidia in a bind if it wants to keep its profits and sales figures high.
Some reports have suggested that Nvidia could be forced to cancel over $5 billion worth of chip orders originally meant for China.
Several chips are restricted under the rules, including its top-of-the-line graphics card, the GeForce RTX 4090, as well as specialty chips the A800 and H800, which were created to comply with the original regulations on computing power but are now subject to the same rules at the 4090.
Instead, Nvidia has devised three new chips specifically for the export market, the HGX H20, the L20, and L2.
These chips have all been created to stop short of the mandated computing power, which means those in the intended markets using them for applications such as machine learning may need more chips than would be the case for the original, higher-spec versions.
Nvidia already faces competition on this front, as Chinese firms such as Baidu, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo have all begun working on the design for semiconductors. This is to prepare for the lack of available chip stock, or in case of further export restrictions in the future.
Though these chips might be more readily available to Chinese customers, some analysts predict that many clients will wish to stick with Nvidia for high-end applications, thanks to its proven track record.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Nvidia may announce the chips as soon as November 16, 2023, and begin sales before the end of the year.