Two months after America choke China has access to two of Nvidia’s high-end chips, the US semiconductor design giant has unveiled a reduced processor replacement for its second-largest market.
The Nvidia A800 is “another alternative to the Nvidia A100 GPU for customers in China,” an Nvidia spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “The A800 meets the US government’s explicit test for reduced export controls and cannot be programmed to exceed it.” The first new chip report by Reuters on Monday.
The A100 processor is known for powering high-performance supercomputers, artificial intelligence and data centers for industries ranging from biotechnology to finance to manufacturing. Alibaba’s cloud business already one of its customers. The A100, along with Nvidia’s H100 enterprise AI chip, have been placed on the US export control list to “address the risk that protected products may be used or diverted for ‘purposes’. military use’ or ‘military end user’ in China and Russia. “
Nvidia previously reported that the US ban could affect Potential sales amount to $400 million to China in the third quarter, so the new chip appears to be an attempt to fix the financial loss. According to an Nvidia spokesperson, the A800 GPU went into production in Q3.
Indeed, chip distributors in China, such as Omnisky, marketed the A800 in their product portfolio. The chip appears to be designed to circumvent US export rules while still implementing other core computing capabilities. Most of the key specifications of the A100 and A800 are the same except for their connection speeds: the A800 runs at 400 gigabytes per second while the A100 operates at 600 gigabytes per second, which is performance threshold put by US ban.
According to one analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank, “By targeting only chips with very high interconnection speeds, the White House is trying to limit its control for chips designed to network together in data centers or supercomputing facilities that train and run large AI models. “
Nvidia isn’t the only one slowing down its chips to evade US sanctions. Alibaba and Chinese chip design startup Biren, which is pouring resources into creating rivals to Nvidia’s microprocessors, are revising the performance of their latest semiconductors, according to the Financial Times. That’s because Alibaba and Biren, like other ageless semiconductor companies, contract with Taiwan’s TSMC to manufacture their products. And because US export controls cover chip sales by companies using US technology, sales from TSMC fabs to China could be limited.