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U.S. Now Considering New AI Chip Export Restrictions To China

U.S. Now Considering New AI Chip Export Restrictions To China

Meanwhile, members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party request that Biden not renew a U.S.-China science and technology cooperation agreement.

Earlier this week, the U.S. and the Netherlands announced summer plans to add more restrictions to the sale of chip-making equipment to China, part of the to nations’ continuing effort to prevent their technology from being used to strengthen China’s military.

While the Dutch are planning to curb certain equipment from national champion ASML and other companies, the U.S. is expected to go one step further and use its long reach to withhold even more Dutch equipment from specific Chinese fabs.

The Dutch government and ASML declined to comment, as did the U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees export controls.

The U.S. in October imposed export restrictions on shipments of American chipmaking tools to China from U.S. companies like Lam Research and Applied Materials on national security grounds, and lobbied other countries with key suppliers to adopt similar curbs.

American officials look to be targeting the chips that power the rapidly developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, looking at further export restrictions to China.

“There will likely be more attempts coming from Washington to target the development in China of some types of applications, and generative AI could be in the crosshairs in the coming year,” Paul Triolo, the technology policy lead at consulting firm Albright Stonebridge, told CNBC.

It comes “as the Biden administration determines which technologies could benefit both China’s military modernization, and which could also boost Chinese companies’ ability to make breakthroughs in generative AI,” he added.

Generative AI relates to applications such as ChatGPT which are able to generate content when prompted by users.

Chip-makers are already feeling the impact of the decision.

Shares of Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices both fell more than 2% in early trading after The Wall Street Journal reported the federal government is weighing new restrictions on exports of sophisticated chips used in artificial intelligence computing to China.

Shares of Nvidia closed down 1.8% Wednesday. AMD shares pared back earlier losses to trade slightly negative by the end of the day.

The export restrictions under consideration would be imposed by the Commerce Department and would come after the U.S. government already limited the computing power of chips made for Chinese use. Nvidia and AMD had been impacted by the prior limitation.

Meanwhile, members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party have implored Biden not to renew a U.S.-China science and technology cooperation agreement.

We are concerned that the [People’s Republic of China] has previously leveraged the [Science and Technology Agreement] to advance its military objectives and will continue to do so,” the committee members wrote in a Tuesday letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Reports suggest that research partnerships organized under the STA could have developed technologies that would later be used against the United States.”

The letter’s signatories – including House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) – suggest it’s no coincidence that five years before Beijing sent a spy balloon through US airspace, American scientists helped China debut similar technology for meteorological research as part of the agreement.

“In 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) organized a project with China’s Meteorological Administration – under the STA – to launch instrumented balloons to study the atmosphere,” the letter read.

“As you know, a few years later, the PRC used similar balloon technology to surveil US military sites on US territory – a clear violation of our sovereignty.”

Given that China’s priorities tend to be Biden’s priorities, that might be a big ask.


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I’d be similarly concerned with AI chips FROM China. Maybe more so.

And I don’t consider Taiwan to be part of China.

The Gentle Grizzly | July 2, 2023 at 2:14 pm

Cut off trade with China. Apple, Buick, HP, Dell, et al will just have to figure out what to do.

RandomCrank | July 2, 2023 at 4:22 pm

You need to research this more thoroughly, LI. Maybe I’m wrong but my guess is that A.I. is software, and not dependent on any dedicated chip design. This is true in other areas, one being that Russia is now using chips from washing machines in their missiles.

    ttucker99 in reply to RandomCrank. | July 2, 2023 at 11:34 pm

    It is software but it requires chips that can do a certain number of operations per second or higher for it to work. Graphics chips do this rather well which is why they are used in bitcoin farming. Nvidia and AMD are the two biggest makers of GPU in the world. A good CPU is necessary also but that mainly puts the work in order and offloads to the GPU to be processed.

      RandomCrank in reply to ttucker99. | July 4, 2023 at 3:24 pm

      That’s what I figured, that it’s a matter of how powerful the chip is. This would strongly suggest (at least to me, a “civilian”) that there is no such animal as an “A.I. chip,” but only a chip or chips powerful enough to run A.I. software.

      To me, this is a distinction with a big difference, because it will be well nigh impossible to stop exports of all chips capable of running A.I. software. The research needs to be into what the software requirements are for A.I.; I have no idea, and suspect that anyone who really does have a good idea is bound by all sorts of agreements not to talk about it.

      Still, the idea that the U.S. will “restrict A.I. chip exports” and have any impact on A.I. itself strikes me as a fanciful press release aimed at people who don’t even bother to ask a basic question or two.

        Hominem Humilem in reply to RandomCrank. | July 5, 2023 at 4:26 pm

        There is a HUGE difference in performance between the top-end chips, which are built using machines developed by the Dutch and rely on highly-tuned production processes with very pure materials (which the Chinese Communists have been unable to develop on their own) and “next-tier” chips–which are still very good, by the way, and are easier to produce (i.e., within China’s technical capabilities) but are larger and less efficient. In a modern computing environment, where tasks are disaggregated and run in parallel, the effects of using second-tier chips make the individual processes much slower and (because there’s greater variability in the performance of individual elements) aggregation of the results of those sub-processes much, much slower (an aggregated task can proceed only as fast as the slowest subcomponent).

        Some of these AI tasks run on top-notch equipment take more than a day to run; the same tasks on second-tier equipment can take months–too slow to be operationally useful (assuming you don’t have a component failure somewhere in the middle of the run that causes you not to get a result at all).

      RandomCrank in reply to ttucker99. | July 4, 2023 at 3:28 pm

      Perhaps the U.S. could target firmware on exported chips, but that would be a software issue and not a chip issue. We have no idea how far along potential enemies are with respect to A.I. To judge from Facebook’s artificial stupidity censorship software, I’m not sure that the U.S. is too far along either.

So we sell the chips/info to France who’ll then sell it to China. And if not it’ll be one of our other trading partners

BierceAmbrose | July 2, 2023 at 8:28 pm

Seems like when you engage in Wolf-Warrior Mercantilism, some people notice and respond.

Roy in Nipomo | July 2, 2023 at 10:52 pm

Wouldn’t selling advanced chip (and the technology to make them) bring Vladimir Ilich Lenin’s quote to mind: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

henrybowman | July 3, 2023 at 7:43 pm

“As you know, a few years later, the PRC used similar balloon technology to surveil US military sites on US territory – a clear violation of our sovereignty.”

Somebody needs to “leak” the idea to China that they can use parasails to power their aircraft carriers.