US graphics card giant Nvidia is offering a new chip specially-designed for the Chinese market, which will allow it to continue to sell its products to customers in China while still complying with new US export control requirements, the company said.
The new A800 graphic processing unit (GPU) is an alternative to its A100 chip that the US government has barred from sale to Chinese clients without approval. Reuters first reported the existence of the new product, which was later confirmed by the Santa Clara-based Nvidia.
“The Nvidia A800 GPU, which went into production in Q3, is another alternative product to the Nvidia A100 GPU for customers in China,” an Nvidia spokesman said in a statement. “The A800 meets the US government’s clear test for reduced export control and cannot be programmed to exceed it.”
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In August, Washington banned Nvidia from selling the A100 and its more powerful H100 data centre GPU to China-based customers without a licence, as part of a larger US effort to ramp up controls on China’s access to advanced chips.
Nvidia’s latest product is a sign that the company is trying to balance commercial interests with Washington’s strategic containment of China. The country accounts for about one quarter of Nvidia’s total gross sales. Third-quarter sales losses from the ban were estimated at about US$400 million, the company said earlier.
A Beijing-based chip distributor told the South China Morning Post that it has already started promoting the A800 to Chinese clients as an alternative to the A100, which was introduced in 2020.
Nvidia has played a pivotal role in supplying the chips that power China’s progress in artificial intelligence (AI), data analysis and high performance computing. As such, the US ban dealt a heavy blow to the country’s ability to develop sophisticated AI models, which are trained using powerful processors from US suppliers such as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, as well as GPUs from Nvidia.
Nvidia’s data centre business, which includes the two advanced chips, posted 61 per cent year on year growth and US$3.8 billion in sales in the quarter ended June 2022.
Nvidia Corp CEO Jensen Huang holds one of the company’s new RTX 4090 chips for computer gaming in this undated photo provided September 20, 2022. Photo: Handout via Reuters alt=Nvidia Corp CEO Jensen Huang holds one of the company’s new RTX 4090 chips for computer gaming in this undated photo provided September 20, 2022. Photo: Handout via Reuters>
As China grows into a global AI powerhouse – with nearly one million businesses claiming a connection to AI – the country has become a “very large market” for Nvidia, according to company founder and CEO Jensen Huang.
Huang, a Taiwanese American entrepreneur, said in a press conference in September that China continues to present significant growth opportunities, even with the export restrictions on its most advanced chips.
The Bureau of Industry and Security, under the US Commerce Department, rolled out a sweeping set of export controls in October, aimed at freezing China’s advanced chipmaking capabilities. The new rules significantly tighten export restrictions on advanced chips above certain technical thresholds, as well as controlling the export of tools needed to design and fabricate such chips.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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