By Jane Lanhee Lee
OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp is offering an advanced new chip in China that abides by recent export control rules aimed at keeping advanced technologies out of China’s reach, the company confirmed on Monday.
Nvidia responded to reports from Reuters that Chinese computer vendors are advertising products with the new chip.
The chip, called A800, represents the first reported effort by a US semiconductor company to create advanced processors for China that follow new US trade rules. Nvidia said the export limitations could cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
U.S. regulations established in early October effectively banned the export of advanced chips and equipment to produce advanced chips by Chinese chipmakers, part of an effort to stifle China’s semiconductor industry and , hence, the army.
In late August, both Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices Inc said their advanced chips, including Nvidia’s A100 data center chip, had been added to the US Department of Commerce’s export control list. The Nvidia A800 can be used instead of the A100 and both are GPUs or graphics processing units.
These advanced chips can cost thousands of dollars each.
“The Nvidia A800 GPU, which entered production in the third quarter, is another alternative product to the Nvidia A100 GPU for customers in China. The A800 meets the US government’s clear test for reduced export controls and cannot be programmed to exceed it,” Nvidia said. the spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.
Nvidia declined to say whether it consulted with the Commerce Department about the new chip. A Commerce Department spokesperson declined to comment.
At least two Chinese websites of major server manufacturers offer the A800 chip in their products. One such product previously used the A100 chip in promotional material.
A distributor website in China detailed the specifications of the A800. A comparison of chip capabilities with the A100 shows that the chip-to-chip data transfer rate is 400 gigabytes per second on the new chip, compared to 600 gigabytes per second on the A100. The new rules restrict speeds of 600 gigabytes per second and above.
“The A800 appears to be a refurbished A100 GPU designed to avoid recent Commerce Department trade restrictions,” CCS Insight analyst Wayne Lam said, basing his comments on specs shared by Reuters, and noting that eight is a number. lucky charm in China.
“China is an important market for Nvidia and it makes good business sense to reconfigure your product to avoid trade restrictions,” Lam said.
Lam said the A800’s chip-to-chip communication capabilities represented a stark performance degradation for a data center where thousands of chips are used together.
Major Chinese server makers Inspur and H3C that offer servers with the new chips did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did chip vendor OmniSky, which published the A800 specs online.
Nvidia said about $400 million in chip sales to China could be affected in its fiscal third quarter ended in October due to limits on high-end chips. Having a replacement chip could help soften the financial blow. The company is due to release its quarterly results on November 16.
(Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee in Oakland, Calif. Additional reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai and Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler)