American government closes loophole circumventing chip export curbs. Aimed at limiting Beijing’s access to sophisticated chips used in artificial intelligence, supercomputing.
The U.S. restricted China’s access to advanced chips and involved technology in October last year. However, American firms could still sell chips to China that fell just under the technical parameters of the restrictions. Companies, such as the world’s most valuable chipmaker, Nvidia, had circumvented the original curbs by designing chips specifically for the Chinese market. While these chips are significantly worse as parts of supercomputers, they perform similarly to more advanced chips in regular computing tasks, including artificial intelligence work.
This loophole will soon be closed, according to Reuters, citing insiders familiar with the matter. By eliminating the so-called “bandwidth parameter,” the curbs will now include a greater number of chips. In addition, companies will be demanded to report the shipments of the most advanced consumer-grade chips, including chips that again fall below the new guidelines, to prevent another circumvention. Reuters adds that the U.S. government reserves the right to decide on a case-by-case basis whether it restricts specific shipments on national security grounds. Regular chips designed for consumer products like laptops will be exempt from the newly announced curbs.
RISC-V – The Next Part of the U.S.-China Tech Dispute
While chips are at the foreground of the U.S.-China technology dispute, some lawmakers, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, have opened a new front, urging the Biden Administration to restrict American companies from working on RISC-V, pronounced “risk five,” an open-source chip technology. Open source means that everyone worldwide can build processors using RISC-V instructions. Should the administration follow the recommendations, global cross-border technology collaboration could change entirely. However, the lawmakers also face resistance. Members of possibly affected companies have expressed concerns about the idea, seeing restrictions as a mistake. Jack Kang, vice president of a company using RISC-V, told Reuters it would be a “tremendous tragedy” and compared it to restricting access to the internet.