US graphics card giant Nvidia is offering a new chip specifically designed for the Chinese market that will allow it to continue selling its products to customers in China while still complying with new US export control requirements. the company said.
The new A800 graphics processing unit (GPU) is an alternative to the A100 chip that the US government has banned from being sold to Chinese customers without approval. Reuters first reported the existence of the new product, which was later confirmed by Santa Clara-based Nvidia.
“The Nvidia A800 GPU, which went into production in the third quarter, is another alternative to the Nvidia A100 GPU for customers in China,” an Nvidia spokesperson said in a statement. “The A800 meets the US government’s clear test for reduced export control and cannot be programmed to overcome it.”
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In August, Washington banned Nvidia from selling the A100 and its more powerful H100 data center GPU to China-based customers without a license, as part of a larger US effort to tighten 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 a 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 customers as an alternative to the A100, which was introduced in 2020.
Nvidia has been instrumental in providing the chips powering China’s advances in artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and high-performance computing. The US ban therefore 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 Nvidia GPUs.
Nvidia’s data center business, which includes the two advanced chips, posted 61 percent year-on-year growth and sales of US$3.8 billion in the quarter ending June 2022.
Nvidia Corp CEO Jensen Huang holds one of the company’s new RTX 4090 chips for PC gaming in this undated photo provided on September 20, 2022. Photo: Handout via Reuters alt=Nvidia Corp CEO Jensen Huang holds a of the gaming company’s new RTX 4090 chips in this undated photo provided on September 20, 2022. Photo: Handout via Reuters>
As China develops into a global AI powerhouse – with nearly a million businesses claiming to be connected to AI – the country has become a “very large market” for Nvidia, according to the company’s founder and CEO Jensen Huang.
Huang, a Taiwanese American businessman, told a press conference in September that China continues to present significant growth opportunities, even with restrictions on exports of 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 chip-making capabilities. The new rules significantly tighten export restrictions on advanced chips above certain technical thresholds, as well as control the export of tooling required to design and manufacture such chips.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice report on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, explore the SCMP app or visit Facebook and SCMP Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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