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US Government Bans Export of Nvidia A100 and H100 GPUs to China and Russia (sec.gov)
723 points by wmf on Aug 31, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 624 comments

This doesn't just ban A100s. It bans those and "any future NVIDIA integrated circuit achieving both peak performance and chip-to-chip I/O performance equal to or greater than thresholds that are roughly equivalent to the A100."

It's a ceiling on the performance that can be exported. In an exponentially scaling industry, this is the equivalent of an announcement in advance of a complete ban on competitive products 2-3yrs out.

Given that both political parties have placed export limits on tech to China, it seems this is the new normal.

One way that companies get around ITAR and similar regulations for things like space grade components that have radiation tolerant features is to only rad test up to what the limits are. The components are probably much more resilient than what they are specced for but by only declaring the legal limit, companies can still export their products. The foreign buyers can do their own testing to prove the components can meet their required levels. I've done this before for a commercial chip that was rumored to be radiation tolerant despite nothing from the vendor saying so and found that it well exceeded my expectations.

I wonder if Nvidia can use a similar loophole where the chips are clocked at lower rates for export to meet the law but can be "overclocked" with hardware modifications.

> Under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (50 U.S.C. §§ 4801-4852) (ECRA), criminal penalties can include up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $1 million in fines per violation, or both.

I work in CPU design and I wouldn't risk it.

I'll eat a hat if any major league manager in the US who could decide this ever goes to prison. To be clear, I'd celebrate it, but the mortgage crisis showed that laws and punishment hardly work on top level execs.

April 28, 2022 - Businessman Sentenced to One Year Imprisonment for ITAR Brokering Violations[0]

This is just the first of many ITAR violation stories that I found when doing a quick search. ITAR violations are regularly enforced.

[0] https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/businessman-sentenced-to-o...

Notice that it was just the broker who got sentenced here. He facilitated the trade, but he's certainly not the guy who made the decisions. Same as with the Diesel scandal: VW blamed it all on some middle-management engineer who was supposedly "acting alone." Poor schmuck got seven years in the US and when he was released he got deported to Germany and locked up for another year. I'll even double down right now and say that despite the investigation going against the former VW CEO, he'll never spend a day in prison. The same would hold with NVIDIA or any other major corp.

Exactly. It would get pinned on some poor engineer just like the Volkswagen diesel stuff.

That’s why an individual contributor should not take part in it. It’s better to get a different job.

Oliver Schmidt had an engineering degree, but he was a Volkswagen AG executive and was the manager of the Volkswagen emissions office in Michigan.

You do. not. FUCK. with. ITAR. The penalties are very steep. When you get caught, intentional violations can have jail time attached for the responsible parties (ie. intentional data breaches would fall on the CISO or closest equivalent). If there is one thing the US government takes very seriously, it's military and defense. They have, and will, fine a company that doesn't get it's shit together into the ground.

ITAR (i.e. National Security) is legally taken much more seriously than financial stuff.

According to the linked reply, you owe us eating your hat. We'll wait for video, thanks.

ITAR is a bit different.

Chinese brand 8fun (bafang) ebike motors have been sold this way for a long time. AFAIK, the spec for their mid drive motors has been well below output potential.

Reminds me of how in the eighties and nineties many MMIC's topped out at 8GHz, on the datasheet. As 9GHz X-band capable stuff was more restricted dual use stuff.

Yet ERA-2SM for example had more gain on 10GHz than the 8GHz where the official spec ended at. :)

Sounds like the 80s/90s 208hp “gentleman’s agreement” in Japan. Most of those cars put out 320+hp with trivial bolt-on mods but they were all “208hp nudge nudge wink wink

You're a little confused, the number was 276hp/280PS/206kW.

My mistake, 208kW (not hp) was the number advertised here.

> where the chips are clocked at lower rates for export

You'd probably have a hard time claiming that was "peak performance" for the chip if it's underclocked with "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" overclocking available.

China would just import the GPUs from black market of countries not facing embargo, Even specific military spec components facing tight scrutiny end up there and other countries facing embargo[1], When Nvidia comes to learn about it they'll just keep quiet until it leaks out.

Not to mention, H100 is itself made in China and it seems Nvidia is allowed to keep building it there[2].

[1] https://www.reuters.com/technology/chip-challenge-keeping-we...

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/01/nvidia-says-us-government-al...

This could work for GPUs: Instead of selling a 20 TFLOP card for $500 you could sell 2 for $250 each consuming half the power. Wonder how long you could keep this up with exponential scaling though...

The US government has been setting the ceiling on performance that can be exported since the beginning of the computer industry.

This is not really new but NVidia was caught by a surprise change in the limits.

It's not just the US government, it's many civilized governments doing these sort of things. And in this particular case this european is grateful for it because it is not about setting ceilings or hindering industry, it's about preventing the abuse of dual use goods. In other words; Not being fsckd by our own stuff.

Other examples can be found here: https://www.wassenaar.org/app/uploads/2021/12/Public-Docs-Vo...

"civilized governments"? how that works?

I think they mean by "civilized governments" governments who don't have military officers as ministers. Nothing to do with civilization.

So, you think that the original intention was to say "civilian governments".

You are very generous with your interpretations, I admire your optimism in how civilized comments in Internet are.

Doing so is one of the guidelines here:

> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.

Along with this one:

> Be kind. Don't be snarky. Have curious conversation; don't cross-examine. Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.

They are all honestly pretty great: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Nah. Your interpretation is undoubtedly correct. I've been on HN 12 years now and I've become used to the increase in Western chauvinism over the recent years – mostly all of it led by US sentiment. The implication above is that the US is part of the civilized world (colloquially called "The West") and that China (and presumably Russia, and Iran, and Venezuela, and Cuba, et al) are part of the uncivilized world.

See, for instance, on this page where Hume speaks of civilized versus uncivilized forms of government: “This chapter examines Hume's conception of government. It considers three forms of government that Hume distinguishes: barbarous monarchy, civilized monarchy, and free government (with its two subdivisions, limited monarchy and republic).” So civilized is contrasted with barbarous. https://academic.oup.com/book/12307/chapter-abstract/1618482...

You'd think with SMIC demonstrating 7nm production ( as detailed in depth in this video by Asianometry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQGnwKBxAKk ) you'd think that the US had gotten the hint that the tech cat is out of the bag – or the tech genie has escaped the lamp or whatever metaphor you prefer … A comparison of SMIC's 7nm process versus the competition: https://www.techinsights.com/blog/smic-7nm-truly-7nm-technol...

My prediction is that SMIC joins TSMC, Intel, Global Foundries, and Samsung at the top tier of semiconductor manufacturing by 2030, along with an ecosystem of Chinese design and manufacturing companies. In doing so the West's stranglehold on other companies like Huawei will be over. If Russia can survive the punitive Western sanctions until then it'll no longer be hampered by lack of access to high-end Western technology.

Yes, absolutely.

I hate it when I have to check if my hobby projects hit Wassenaar limits or not.

They often do! Hobby drones, GRBL hobby CNCs, hobby micrcontrollers and SBCs, open-source SDR projects, etc. will often exceed the performance of devices that were ITAR restricted a decade or two ago. And "a decade or two ago" is a generous expectation for lethargic legislative, regulatory, or judicial systems to evolve.

Yes, in the 70s and 80s, it made sense to say that 5-axis NCs systems that can cut Inconel turboprops for ICBMs should be export controlled; those were multi-million-dollar flagships of the biggest and best manufacturers and were key to the country's military edge. Now you can get one shipped from China for a couple thousand dollars, with servo loop times, encoder and linear scale resolution, memory capacity, processor speed, axis counts, etc. that are better than the originals that cost a thousand times more half a century ago.

Today, it's true that the A100 is a cutting edge, shockingly powerful, uniquely capable processor. You can do machine learning/computer vision projects with it that you can't do with any other technology. Eighty gigabytes! 256 GB/s per package! Almost 20 teraflops of FP32! Compared to the GPU in the desktop you bought 8 years ago, yes, these are huge. But if you plot interconnect bandwidth, memory size, core counts, price, and so on, and extrapolate forward... yeah, your little hobby Kubernetes cluster of 2030-era Raspberry Pi equivalents will probably be at a performance level that's export controlled.

>it's many civilized governments...

China not civilized?

And before human rights becomes the main talking point: Guantanamo.

It's a gradient. How you throw things down on that is up to you. Guantanamo vs. reeducation and labor camps. Paying judges to help keep the local juvenile prison full vs. harvesting organs from prisoners. Suppression of free speech and the media vs. whatever we see on Twitter daily.

Civilized or not is up to your perspective.

More like US prison system vs Chinese “camps”. One look at the numbers shows which of those is more oppressive. This includes things like slave labour: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/15/us-prison-wo...

It's impossible to quantify oppressive. We don't know much about Chinese labor camps or re-education centers.

Even if we did, how do you measure up acts done in these places against one another? Is making license plates for pennies in the US better or worse than making t-shirts in Xinjiang? Is being wrongfully thrown in prison due to a prejudice judge seeing your only skin color worse than being thrown into prison for being Muslim who refuses to shave their beard?

As a US prisoner I was worked until my hands bled, regularly forced to do things declared torture by the USA courts. Feel free to complain to the prison guard in charge of the complaints process. You have no access to the courts until you have exhausted the prison complaints process. Complain, and you will be placed in a cell with some unsavory characters, your room will be 'shaken down' every day, including your cellies stuff, and it will be made known the shakedown is due to your bucking the system. Your cellies will make sure you stop complaining and their cell stops getting tore up. The USA system is all for looks, but is impossible to actually get any access to remedy once you are on the inside and no longer in the world.

FYI: Things like fast food franchise remodels regularly have American forced labour doing a lot of the CAD/CAM work. If you eat at American franchise restaurants, you support American prisoner slave labour. [edit] here is a pretty government website promoting you to use slave labour: https://www.unicor.gov/Category.aspx?iStore=UNI&idCategory=1...

here is the US Constitution 13th Amendment banning slavery:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

I agree it’s hard to quantify, and I agree US prisons aren’t really worse than Chinese ones. Rather, I believe they are roughly the same. Thus, condemning out one without even mentioning the other is simply dishonest. Especially when the condemning side is the competing perpetrator, as is usually the case with anti-Chinese propaganda.

How can you say they are the same when we have so little information on the prisons in China?

I’m assuming the claims from anti-Chinese propaganda - Zenz et al - are true. It’s still not worse from what’s happening in US.

Again, wholly subjective. I'd say it's much worse. It's also hard to take anyone seriously who has 50 Cent Army in their profile when it comes to issues on China.

Given that US is imprisoning many more people, for largely commercial (slavery) and racial reasons, how is China worse? I'm genuinely interested in your arguments here.

Is the US imprisoning more? I wasn't aware we had accurate numbers on camps in Xinjiang and prisons in China.

Let me know when anyone is actually allowed to verify what is happening there, until then comparisons are useless.

They are using civilized torture in Guantanamo, you know.

How many organs were civilizationally harvested there?

What specifically is the downside of allowing export?

I expect there is a real answer and a PR answer to this question; The PR answer has something to do with missile guidance and crypto currency. But the real answer i fear is that limiting import/export allows wars to start more easily.

I worked with a company that upgraded a mainframe cluster not located in the USA. The upgrade topped out a collective rating of that user's installed computing power allowance given for civilian purposes. So, to do the upgrade, US Export controls required the client to decommission some older nodes and that had to be witnessed by US Consular representatives walked through the whole process taking video and photographic evidence. And the agreed method of decommissioning was to haul these old nodes out in to a deserted area and run bulldozers over them in a pit. Not joking. Wish I kept some of the photos though.

> user's installed computing power allowance given for civilian purposes

I don't know what this means. Would you explain?

ITAR has limits on processing power that can be exported: supercomputers have "dual use" and can be used for military applications, such as simulating nuclear explosions or designing hypersonic weaponry, e.t.c.

Parent poster likely worked for a US company that was doing a customer upgrade abroad (i.e. exporting US technology) that would have tipped the cluster compute capacity above the permissible limits, unless some older nodes were decommissioned and destroyed.


When was this done previously?

You can go down the rabbit hole at federalregister.gov. Here's a couple places where they talk about it:

https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-15/subtitle-B/chapter-VII... https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2006/04/24/06-3647...

You'll probably have to dig quite a bit to find the latest rules and regulations.

These regulations go back to at least the Export Control Act of 1968. Every CPU/GPU maker would have a legal team that understands these rules.

Hmm I’ll have to check that out, thanks for sharing

In many (most?) manufacturing industries there is an upper limit on export product performance. If you make steel, there are a bunch of types/grades subject to limits related to their use in nuclear technology. If you make microphones there is a limit on those that might be used in sonar arrays. Certainly all manner of limits exist in aerospace. Even game consoles have been limited (Iran). This is not an unusual regulation.

> If you make steel, there are a bunch of types/grades subject to limits related to their use in nuclear technology.

Assuming said steel is actually of the quality it's certified as [0]

[0] https://asiatimes.com/2017/10/nuclear-tentacles-kobe-steel/

There are all kinds of things subject to export restrictions:


For example, high resolution analog to digital converters have restrictions. In the past strong cryptography even had restrictions:


Even travel for US citizens was restricted. I have relatives who were in the semiconductor and aerospace industries during the 1980s. They were advised by the government to not attempt to travel to the Eastern Bloc. Some kinda related reading:


I knew about the previous cryptography restrictions, but I also knew that the Supreme Court overruled them by ruling (as I understand it) that “code is speech”. I’ll have to check out the other links though

Not the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit in a subsequently-withdrawn opinion.


(Because the opinion was withdrawn, it's "persuasive" but not "binding".)

Good catch

This brings back memories of a t-shirt I had that had big red letters on it "Export Controlled" and an implementation of RSA in perl on it.

    #!/usr/local/bin/perl -s-- -export-a-crypto-sardine -RSA-6-line-PERL-fish
    '\~.         __......--------~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-------....____
     \  ~.__---~';($k,$n)=@ARGV;$m=unpack(H.$w,$m."\0"x$w),$_=`echo  "[o~~-._
      \  ]s!16do$w 2+4Oi0$d*-^1[d2%Sa2/d0<X+d*La1=z\U$n%0]SX$k"[$m*]"\E[     ~.
      /  ]s!szlXx++p"|dc`,s/^.|\W//g,print pack('H*',$_)while read(STDIN,$m," .'
     /  .-~~--.._" +($w=2*$d-1+length($n||die"$0 [-d] k n\n")&~1)/2);'  __..-~
    ,/.~         ~~~~----........._______________________.......-----~~'

The opposite was of course done when the US sold a ton of Xeon Phi accelerators to China when they built the Tianhe-2 supercomputer.

My favourite conspiracy theory is that this was done deliberately by the US, since Xeon Phi was a large pile of steaming turd, so the Chinese wasted money on a machine with high theoretical FLOPS but crappy real world performance, and also wasted the time of their scientists and programmers who were porting code to a programming paradigm that went nowhere fast.

Intel processors were always a waste of money.

US tried to block PlayStation 2s from going to China as they were too powerful: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/review/0...

Apple made a fairly big deal of the fact that the G5 processor, when they started putting it into their machines (or maybe it was when they went to dual G5s?), had just recently stopped being export-controlled by virtue of being classified as a "supercomputer".

(What really happened was that the Feds revised the definition of "supercomputer", and suddenly the G5 configuration they were using didn't qualify anymore... it had nothing to do with anything Apple did, except perhaps lobbying for it so they could build computers in China.)

Close, but it was actually the G4 where they started doing that.

They made a big deal about it in their commercials at the time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoxvLq0dFvw

There was also a ban export of strong cryptography. So Java couldn’t use string ciphers and algorithms without adding some additional jar which basically just turned the `enableStrongEncryption` flag on. This isn’t necessary anymore but I don’t know what changed legally.

I believe this is what changed legally: > One of EFF's first major legal victories was Bernstein v. Department of Justice, a landmark case that resulted in establishing code as speech and changed United States export regulations on encryption software, paving the way for international e-commerce


Let's not forget that these policies fostered the development of encryption in Canada, Australia and other countries (See SSLEay for example). So it ended up being counter-productive. The simplest way to stop competition is to subsidize a product. In this case, offer the tools openly.

Check out the limitations ITAR places on exported electronics.

Since the creation of the United States of America. One famous in the computer era is the banning of encryption algorithm.

Truly a surprise change. The new requirements do not appear to be published in the Federal Register, which is a massive screwup that potentially renders the requirements illegal and invalid. My contacts in the trade compliance world are aghast.

Will be interesting to see if Nvidia challenges it.

a surprise for everyone except Nancy Pelosi’s husband who unwound his Nvidia positions early, avoiding by exposure to this news

Think of the marketing for Nvidia: "The GPU so powerful we're not allowed to export it. "

Reminds me of an old Apple ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoxvLq0dFvw

I wonder how they could have said:

"As for Pentium PCs... well, they're harmless."

without that resulting in lawsuits.

Somehow I feel that in our world the majority of corporations don't make direct comparisons to their competitors that often, preferring to use "competing brands" or something of that variety instead.

Avoiding a lawsuit is easy in that case: The Intel lawyer would have to make the argument that Pentium PCs are, in fact, harmful. Which would have opened a whole new can of worms.

"As for Pentium PCs... well, they're harmless."

Hard to see how Intel could sue over a statement like that.

The reason many companies say "competing brands" is because they don't want to mention an alternative, because it increases the mindshare of the other brand.

The G4 cases with the handles on the edges were so nice.

or, "A100: The F-22 Raptor of GPU's!"

So... designed in the 80s. Built in the 90s. Never exported. And not manufactured for over a decade?

Think like a marketer. How about, "Fast, quiet, and comfortable in the clouds"?

I mean comfortable is easy when you can't breathe and pass-out causing potential hundreds of millions in damage and loss of a qualified pilot.

I can’t see how this would be effectively enforced - what’s to prevent them from spinning up an arm’s-length subsidiary (i.e. controlled through trustworthy middlemen) outside of US jurisdiction and using that to sell to prohibited markets? Like, exactly what, for instance, crocs are doing with Russia - or Tetley’s did with Teapigs (for different reasons).

Are these GPUs being produced in china? Maybe china will ban shipping these to the US?

Nvidia does their main chip fab in Taiwan AFAIK, along with a large number of other companies. It's one of the reasons tensions over Taiwan are worrying. China could blockade or invade Taiwan and start a "shortage" far worse than anything we've seen recently if they decided it was necessary/worthwhile.

Nearly all chip packaging however happens in mainland China. Including presumably for Nvidia's products.

Though Nvidia has probably already sourced some niche provider at a much higher cost elsewhere in anticipation.

Indeed, China has lots of other levers it can exert to cause a catastrophic shortage entirely on its own. Chip fabs in Taiwan are a big problem because there aren't many alternatives elsewhere, and due to the cost/time required to stand up a SOTA fab facility.

No surprise. I imagine they'll just buy older and/or more stable stock.

Worked on a three 50U rack recently with quad T4's per 2U and we're not even through 10% of that order yet.

Yeah I mean, great for running inference (and obviously training smaller models). The problem is that Scaling Laws for Transformers show us that scaling model parameter count _up_, is a sure way to improve the model's performance over your task.

So when you're playing nation-state hard-ball, since the architectures are _somewhat_ trivially copied upon being published, that means the best checkpoint goes to the one with the fastest GPU's. If China wasn't behind in deep learning, they will be.

T4 is great for some stuff. And total trash for many other things you might want A100/H100 for.

That wasn't my point.

We build servers, test them, and ship them (in the US). No fucks given on the technical superiority of the `A100/H100` than parts that may be a generation older.

wouldn’t a better strategy be have china depend on those product but require a sorts of built-on remote control in them in case of a conflict.

last I checked that's not what's at issue. they can't produce equivalent chips themselves and rely on them for various physics simulations that back weapons research

Yeah sure, bundle a freaking web server in you gpu driver.

Nvidia already has plenty of spyware in their drivers

Edit: I knew this would get downvoted quickly. Hey, mr or ms judge of truth, how about you check what nvidia services run on your machine before wielding all that power.

Crazy, do radeon drivers do anything like that?

It's unlikely they would pay the premium when they can rip them off or design their own for cheaper.

Edit: why disagree?

Only if you expect China to forgo their own development of these sorts of products if they are given access to them.


Eric Schmidt, the former Google chairman, told Reuters in a recent interview that high-end processors should have kill-switches.

“Knowing where the chips go is probably a very good thing. You could for example, on every chip put in essentially a public private key pair, which authenticates it and allows it to work”.


What he won’t tell is that this is already a reality, as I learned after having my air-gapped system and Pixel phone wiped remotely for researching “silent speech interfaces”. There is no security when silicon trojans are in all devices.

Did your airgapped systems get wiped remotely again, after the last time you posted about it 22 days ago?


> Eric Schmidt, the former Google chairman, told Reuters in a recent interview that high-end processors should have kill-switches.

“Knowing where the chips go is probably a very good thing. [...]

Not my air-gapped again, but my phone is indeed interfered with to dissuade me from posting. Thanks for the concern.

I'm going to put this nicely, so please take it in the constructive spirit intended -- serious claims require serious evidence to be believed. And a scattering of news articles or videos are not serious evidence.

I truly believe you're very concerned about all the things you talk about, but if you want to convince people to also believe then there needs to be more from your side.

And no, suggesting that people perform ptychographic x-ray laminography on their chips isn't a practical suggestion.

Fine with me. Evidence is better when people collect it themselves. If someone isn't willing to have their own air-gapped system, ask how they could bring about the same results that I found and carry experiments accepting the risks, they aren't properly looking for scientific knowledge and I am fine with them ignoring my claims.

People with willingness and means can find me anyways.

> You could for example, on every chip put in essentially a public private key pair, which authenticates it and allows it to work

intel SGX already involves a per-chip keypair with intel as the root of trust. it just isn't required to use the rest of the chip

What was your air-gapped system, and what do you mean by wiped? How do you know it was due to this research of yours?

Perhaps Google had this in mind as they embarked on their Intel Management Engine workaround, dubbed "NERF": https://www.phoronix.com/news/Google-NERF-UEFI-Linux

Your claims would be more believed if you would elaborate and answer people's questions.

I reply as possible. Don't need or expect people to take my word for it, need people to actually investigate what actually is on our chips, whatever their motivation. Consider:

"It's not technically hard to make a device that complies with the FCC that listens to nonpublic bands but then is quietly waiting for some activation trigger to listen to other bands," said Eduardo Rojas, who leads the radio spectrum lab at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. "Technically, it's feasible."

To prove a device had clandestine capabilities, Rojas said, would require technical experts to strip down a device "to the semi-conductor level" and "reverse engineer the design." But, he said, it can be done.


One way it can be done:

Ptychographic X-ray Laminography; No trade secret or hardware trojan can hide! https://spectrum.ieee.org/chip-x-ray

vacuum gapped for the next try?

Replacing the air with brine water (absorbs microwaves/radiation).

why stop there? I propose a FOOF gap

soooo..... if china and russia do a collab and reverse engineer the existing A100, what.... will USA or nvidia do? like sue them? haha

They cannot manufacture such advanced chip even if they have circuit design.

Not only that, by the time they figure how to do it the rest of the world will have moved on by at least 2 generations. SMIC has announced 14nm (but shipments in volume aren't clear), TSMC will have 5nm chips shipping in volume by the end of the month.

how does that matter? SMIC had the 7nm news recently, not sure about that but even if it is 14nm, can't they throw money on the problem and get something to start with?

they don't have to achieve A100 levels in the first go, even Rpi level chips should be enough to give them experience

I guess they are not able to buy the tooling (think ASML EUV) to make advanced node either. So, they’d also need to throw a shitload of time and money at this.

This is one of those problems that “throwing money at it” doesn’t speed it up. China has been throwing money at the problem for over a decade and they’re still behind.

That's what they've been trying to do, of course, but so far they haven't really succeeded yet.

Taiwan is pretty close to China...

Those fabs aren't going to survive an invasion.

Literally all nvidia has is the circuit design. They do not do any fabrication, and they get all their stuff made in taiwan.

If china had the layout, they would just get it made in taiwan.

There is a newly announced Chinese alternative to those GPUs - the Biren BR100.

Fabbed at TSMC. (I guess we are about to see if SMIC can do their 7nm at scale.)



Here is how Biren says it stacks up on various machine learning workloads, pitting the BR100 against the Nvidia A100:

We presume this is for AI training workloads, not inference. The average speedup over the A100 is around 2.6X. It is not clear if the Nvidia machines were using sparse matrix features, which doubles the throughput, or not. Our guess is they were not.

This article has more technical details:


I'm optimistic that this diversity will unseat the CUDA framework's dominance in high-performance compute. OpenCL, AMD ROCm, and now "Birensupa" will compete with CUDA; hopefully leading to reduced dependence on any individual manufacturer's proprietary APIs.

Does anyone actually use ROCm? It seems barely supported by AMD, with minimal development, and difficult to run in nearly any scenario. It's been a massive disappointment for someone who generally prefers AMD gpus.

Doesn't really matter if they're cheaper and more easily available.

I am not sure what exactly the thought process is here? So NVIDA is losing Chinese market, probably for the foreseeable future. Chinese are one step away from figuring out this technology anyway, if not already. They will not trust us again. It makes them less dependent on us. Oh, and we still need their manufacturing because of the labor costs, environmental issues, regulations and now, energy costs. How would this work exactly? I know it has been done during the Cold War I, but the world looks very different today.

For the same reason why you don't send good money after bad. A line is drawn in the sand and while this isn't significant at first - it compounds over time, and allows businesses to divest, avoid new relationships and allow existing ones to become redundant.

From war-mongering, using arbitrary embargoes as political retaliation, to farcical business practices (e.g. the ARM China saga), to a lop-sided approach to intellectual property and using the state to remove competition, both China and Russia have proven to act in bad faith, not respect rules-based order and not be a good business/manufacturing partner.

At some point one needs to stop feeding the trolls.

>From war-mongering, using arbitrary embargoes as political retaliation, to farcical business practices (e.g. the ARM China saga), to a lop-sided approach to intellectual property and using the state to remove competition

This description fits USA much better than China. Especially the war mongering - China hasn’t invaded anyone for five decades now.

And China doesn't use sanctions or embargoes on anywhere near the same scale as the US does. Nobody does.

What meaningful sanctions has China imposed? The US has imposed very harsh sanctions against China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and many other countries. Because of the US dollar's position as the international reserve currency, US sanctions are highly effective. Huawei can barely even do business with other Chinese companies, because they're all afraid of getting hit by secondary sanctions.

The grandparent comment poses this as an issue of confronting a China that is behaving unfairly or erratically. That's not what this is about at all. Chinese policy has been relatively stable. In terms of how it treats foreign firms (for example, on IP protection issues), it's been getting progressively better. China doesn't want to rock the boat, because it is still developing and believes that things will go its way if it just smoothly grows its economy.

The real issue is that the US political class is panicking about being eclipsed as the world's top power. The panic began during the Trump administration, but it has now infected both political parties and is consensus in Washington. We'll see more and more disruptive moves like this until one of two things happens:

1. WW3, which everyone on Earth will lose.

2. The US realizes that being #2 isn't that bad.

China will just import the cards via third leg which isn’t sanctionizing them, eg Japan

>Chinese are one step away from figuring out this technology anyway

Even if they do they are far away from fabrication.

>They will not trust us again.

China already massively distrusts the West. America tried the Japanese economic model with China (allow your factories to be exported there, remove trade barriers) and it didn't get them very far.

> Even if they do they are far away from fabrication.

Where do you think most of the electronics is manufactured?

State-of-the-art chip fabrication is still mostly based in Taiwan, with TSMC (as an example: the BR100, China's most recent native flagship gpu, is fabbed using TSMC) - China's own SMIC has appeared to struggle

However, they seem to have been catching up fairly quickly - until very recently SMIC have been stuck around 14nm (state of the art in 2013, SMIC in 2019), but they recently announced they have managed to start producing 7nm chips (state of the art in 2018)

Take Chinese announcements with a grain of salt. It’s the same as “IBM produced 0.1 nm transistor” stuff. It’s far from production.

They’ll get there eventually though.

SMIC didn't announce that it's fabricating 7 nm chips. The news came from an external analysis of a chip SMIC fabricated.

SMIC apparently began fabricating at 7 nm without any fanfare.

I assume fabrication refers to semiconductor fabs, not factories assembling computers together. None of the world's most advanced semiconductor fabs are in China, and whether they can catch up to TSMC/Samsung remains to be seen.

>Chinese are one step away from figuring out this technology anyway

Then they can ban their products from the US

Can't most manufacturing be moved to other countries, such as India and Vietnam?

It seems to only make sense if we feel that advanced technology enables a greater threat in the near future...

... or we're governed by morons. Take your pick.

Nice that this comes a month after the Pelosis cleared their NVDA holdings. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

It's kind of astounding that the Senate can literally legalize insider trading for themselves and nothing comes of it. There's no one pointing out how that's just garden-variety corruption common in every authoritarian, extractive state, but one step removed. A great example of how even in a democratic society, the people cannot realistically expect lawmakers to pass laws against those lawmakers' own economic interests.

They passed the STOCK Act in 2012 ostensibly to combat insider trading in Congress but it's basically toothless.

They're still doing it. But in the case they get caught the standard fine is $200 and even that gets waived by House/Senate officials. They don't even bother to keep records on violators.

Although this seems to only affect the Chinese and Russian governments (as opposed to researchers), I'm generally against economic brinkmanship of this variety. It just festers resentment, and doesn't seem to achieve much: of what little I could find and scan in an hour, it appears that Nvidia GPUs strong-scale pretty well for neural networks ([1], [2]). Although this depends heavily on the NN architecture and training algorithm, Ampere architectures _seem_ to suffer from similar levels of atomic contention as Volta architectures [3]. That said, the throughput for half-precision floating point and integral data is much higher on Ampere [3]. Hopefully their final report includes NVLink bandwidth on Ampere.

So what's stopping an adversary from just buying multiple V100s? Or potentially faster accelerators from countries outside the US [4]?

If you're familiar with GPU strong-scaling, please chime in [5]!

[1] - https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.09161

[2] - https://arxiv.org/abs/2111.04949

[3] - https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/on-demand/session/gtcspring21-s...

[4] - https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.03413

[5] - https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Cunningham%27s_Law

It's not inconceivable that these are being used for inference on some military tech where power/heat/size constraints prevent using many wimpy GPUs


One the applications they are hungry for.

Very worrying to see the restrictions against China escalating;

Especially since China is incredibly advanced in hardware manufacturing and is not at war with the West.

At best, this is just pushing for escalation so they can restrict exports on their side too.

Even, for them. In one of their speech (in France, on a YouTube channel called Thinkerview for those who know), one of their representative quoted a Chinese proverb saying: "Nothing is more favourable than stability, nothing is more harmful than chaos".

Social stability, free markets and long-term peace are in the interest of both parties.

This is what the West tried to do with Russia. Germany especially was heavy on economic ties. "Surely if we're economically tied together, Russia won't risk their prosperity by full-on invading another country!" How well did that turn out for them?

Mainland China has no current and short-term future capability to manufacture cutting-edge chips of the kind used in these GPUs.

you'd hope people who make these decisions also include some mid and long term thinking. On that time scale any politicization of trade is going to accelerate competitors and incentivize everyone to look towards alternatives. That's basically what's happened in software already.

A major reason the US has had sustained influence in the world without using much force is because it has not weaponized trade. It's the reason for the strength of the dollar, the dominance of US tech and finance, and so on. Throwing that away to merely stagger a country that's destined to catch up eventually doesn't seem wise.

>>> A major reason the US has had sustained influence in the world without using much force is because it has not weaponized trade

Are you sure? All the economic sanctions which the US heaps on "enemy state"s are nothing but weaponizing trade.

SMIC just announced 7 nm and Biren announced a GPU with claimed H100-like performance.

Thanks; it looks like my understanding is outdated, though note the following caveats:

SMIC 7nm: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/china-chipmaker-smics-7nm-... (ignore the journalist-speculative headline, but pay attention to the following)

> "This low-volume production product may be the steppingstone for a true 7nm process that incorporates scaled logic and memory bitcells. Since bitcoin miners have limited RAM requirements, they likely do not feature the typical bitcell memory that the true 7nm technology definition requires (both scaled logic and bitcell adoption). This chipset likely demonstrates the logic part but not the bitcell aspect," said TechInsights.

Biren: this looks to be diffused by TSMC.

Biren is made at TSMC, exactly as NVIDIA A100 and H100.

Biren is designed in China, like A100 & H100 are designed in USA.

As long as TSMC is not forbidden to export to China, forbidding only the export of chips designed in USA can no longer affect China, when they have pretty much identical chip design capabilities with USA.

Neither does the US.

Have you missed the announcements by Intel, Samsung, Micron, and TSMC to build new fabs in the US?

US semiconductor manufacturing has a bright future. The next decade will see an amazing push.

US is scared.

The world isn't really going in the right direction and any sign toward appeasing or pacification is crucial at such stage :/

What I am calling for: closer ties and negotiations and collaborative work.

Sorry what does this comment mean? I genuinely don't understand (not a native speaker).

EDIT: Oh I think I get it, you want more cooperation, peace, among humans/countries etc.

Yeah, most people want it, but in today's world, it is increasingly unlikely.

On one hand, I don't like the fact that Western world emphasizes diversity and multiculturalism too much. We are too different, and forcing everyone to accept everyone is just pipe dream. At one point my values will clash with someone else's. I think fences, borders, are good. Deglobalization is good, slower economy is good. Just make sure we don't invade one another (I know, also pipe dream).

I also quite admire Xi Jinping. He is a dictator, and knows that he serves his country, an ethnic nation. He doesn't pretend to care about other ethnic minorities or other nations. He made China great. Hopefully China doesn't invade other countries, and prefer to be defensive.

In short: fences make good neighbors, let's all slow down on (forced) diversity and multiculturalism, let's all go back to our own fences, and cooperate from within the fences. We can visit our neighbors sometimes, have a good laugh, and after that we go home to our own fences.

Cooperation is overrated. I'd settle with peaceful coexistence. It is heaven on Earth.

I don't seek downvote, but I know I will be downvoted for this opinion, just make sure you squint to read the light colored comments.

Yeah you found the right word, peaceful coexistence :)

I'm maybe too dreamy, but I feel we are all prisoners on Earth, until we reach another planet.

And I believe game theory shows that prisoners are better collaborating ;)

As an entrepreneur, if I'd be running NVidia (or just investor in $NVDA), I'd be extremely annoyed that I am forbidden to sell my products to a large market, just because of political pressure.

Regarding your solutions and analysis, I don't know much about China politics other than gifs or memes that I saw on reddit, so I cannot say :D

The problem with being in the same cell is eventually one wants to smoke and one hates smoke. Everyone should just be in their own cell, and we can do whatever we want. We can still play card game and talk.

China is the only old civilization that still strive today. As a country, they are really big. It takes tremendous amount of leadership to bring China to what it is today.

Yes the memes about China are true, like the Uyghur Muslims treatment, the police state etc. But despite all of these, despite the lack of diversity, despite the lack of Western values, they still made great progress. It shows that a nation doesn't need diversity and multiculturalism to be strong.

I'm fine with diversity and multiculturalism, I just prefer the fenced version of it.

To tell the truth, I am scared of China too (and I am scared of their influence and power over my home country, I currently reside in the US). But I respect their strength.

> China is the only old civilization that still strive today.

i doubt that is actually true - the old chinese civilization is long gone. It's like saying that the american indian civilization is still here today.

> they still made great progress

they did - and to obtain that progress, they had to open up to world trade, to become part of the international community, and to cooperate.

It's proof that free market and international trade is not zero sum, and that all parties benefit.

But now that progress has been made, the chinese gov't seems to want to usurp more - both politically as well as economically. They desire the advances that their western trade partners enjoy, but don't desire the political freedom, and self-determination that would also come with such advances.

I think the US is not in a good strategic position to overcome china economically, unfortunately. The fact that the US has resorted to politically motivated bans like that is a clear sign. And china has progressed enough that i dont believe such bans will be effective at all - at most it will slow down the progress by about a couple years.

> i doubt that is actually true - the old chinese civilization is long gone. It's like saying that the american indian civilization is still here today.

Native American Indian didn't speak English, got obliterated by European settlers, their culture and their language destroyed. The American Indians have zero continuity today. They are a lost people. The Chinese was and still is the same, the Han. Despite Mongol and Japan's invasion, they still retained their culture, their buildings, their language, and their genetic make up.

> they did - and to obtain that progress, they had to open up to world trade, to become part of the international community, and to cooperate.

> It's proof that free market and international trade is not zero sum, and that all parties benefit.

I agree. Hence why they showed that a nation can become strong without forcing diversity. They just stick to their own self, their own culture, and generally absorb world's technology, research, and information. In today's free flow of information, we don't need diversity and multiculturalism.

Although, I argue that diversity and multiculturalism has zero correlation with why US is a strong nation. US is a strong nation simply because this land is abundant, rich, has a lot of river, geographically advantageous, and largely left alone when the whole world was fighting.

> But now that progress has been made, the chinese gov't seems to want to usurp more - both politically as well as economically. They desire the advances that their western trade partners enjoy, but don't desire the political freedom, and self-determination that would also come with such advances.

Yeah, I can understand why the Chinese govt want that. If I were the Chinese govt, I would think the same too. If I were an average Chinese citizen, I'd want the opposite.

> I think the US is not in a good strategic position to overcome china economically, unfortunately. The fact that the US has resorted to politically motivated bans like that is a clear sign. And china has progressed enough that i dont believe such bans will be effective at all - at most it will slow down the progress by about a couple years.

Yeah, totally agree.

Native American cultures and languages are still very much alive. Have you not heard of the Cherokee and Navajo nations, and the many others? They are definitely not a lost people. Also, not all Chinese people are Han.

You know nothing about china. I suggest reading up on the different Chinese dynasties before making uneducated statements

We’re talking about ethnic groups, not dynasties. Han are the biggest but not the only Chinese ethnic group. What did I say that was incorrect?

Compared to the Han Chinese state today, the Native Americans are in a really really really sad state.

Han Chinese is the biggest Chinese ethnic make up.

> Compared to the Han Chinese state today, the Native Americans are in a really really really sad state.

That’s not what you said.

> Han Chinese is the biggest Chinese ethnic make up.

Didn’t say they weren’t.

And your point?

There’s no point other than to correct your factually inaccurate statement.

I think you need to read that Robert Frost poem again (Mending Wall), because it doesn’t say what you think it says.

The irony of voicing such an opinion with the name immigrant heart...

Yes sir. I take advantage of coming to a generous Western nation filled with opportunity while earning what most people here could only dream.

Thank you generous Western nation. I hope my contribution, my taxes, my hard work benefits you.

One day I will go back home. I won’t be part of you anymore.

When that time comes, I hope you’ll leave us alone in our own affairs and don’t invade us or bomb us anymore.

Sincerely, A very hard working immigrant who could outwork most of your citizens, who just want to be left alone and prefer peace.

I’m glad you’re willing to take the mask off and show your true feelings. It’s really great for everybody in this forum who may have been persuaded by your hateful nativist screed to see what kind of person you truly are.

Totally. It's not like I am gonna change my thinking. If anything, the opposite.

Enjoy encountering millions of people like me in this world. The silent majority.

Often times I wonder why Westerners never really learn that they shouldn't impose their way of life to the rest of the world.

Then I look at social media, and forum like this. I understand.

They still have their superiority complex, deep down to the bone.

>They still have their superiority complex, deep down to the bone.

> Sincerely, A very hard working immigrant who could outwork most of your citizens

The irony thickens

Please don’t bomb me o mighty westerner. Just because the rest of the world doesn’t want your ways doesn’t mean you could bomb the rest of us.


See the evil in your people first before judging others.

Keep going, tell us all how you really feel.

Please don’t bomb me o mighty westerner. Just because the rest of the world doesn’t want your ways doesn’t mean you could bomb the rest of us.


See the evil in your people first before judging others.

What kind of appeasement did you have in mind?

Probably the same kind of appeasement China does for the US by not selling weapons to Alaska and conducting freedom of navigation patrols between Alaska and Washington.

> living in Europe

> any sign of appeasing would be positive

...yada yada doomed to repeat yada yada...

I hope you do realize you've been smoking at the proverbial gas station for 30 years now?

The first step when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. Too late for that now, I have to admit.

I'm not sure I understand (litterally, without being sarcastic or something).

You mean that the point of no return is already passed and that there is no reason to try to calm down things using diplomacy and cooperation, that it's purely on a power level that there is the solution ?

Are the China-embarrassing state visits to Taiwan an example of diplomacy and cooperation?

That kind of cooperation and diplomacy is called coercion and incitement.

The problem is, China and India have grown up now and they are going to behave like adults. And how do adult role models behave in the century XXI? Afghanistan, Lybia, Iraq, that's how.

No other country has such fits of rage to a diplomatic visit. Pretending that having leaders of one country visit another is coercion or incitement is gaslighting.

Tell that to Japan which issues diplomatic notes of protest every time Russian officials (not even foreign diplomats!) visit Russian Kuril islands.

Meanwhile, Kuril islands: contested by Japan but 70 years under Russian administration.

No, the US world police is winding down (Bretton Woods era). Expect massive chaos everywhere except in US for decades to come.

Yes I read the book as well.

US already has inside chaos (and will get way way, way way, way way worse), don't need to worry about other countries chaos.

The on-purpose collapse of the global American Empire is going to cause pain for the entire world.

Eh, its life.

Could very well be, I sincerely hope not. If you remove the facade of petty wars of insert-your-current-thing, I was surprised to see that Biden is even more pro-US and anti-China/Russia than Trump from a strategic standpoint. US is becoming the IBM of sorts of nation. Slow, sluggish, inefficient and it's gonna continue to peddle on as far as no one fucks with the food supplies (or guns).

> US is becoming the IBM of sorts of nation. Slow, sluggish, inefficient

You should look at the GDP per capita of the US compared to literally every other country in the last 10 years.

> You should look at the GDP per capita

i dont think it's wrong to compare the US to IBM. The GDP per capita is high still because the returns from investments made many decades ago (in fact, almost a century ago!) are bearing fruit. I'm talking about highways, infrastructure and research/development.

But those investments will eventually be completely consumed. So what investments are being made today that would replace it?

IBM was still very profitable when their downfall began.

hope not i wouldn't want the CCP being the global leader...but in the end we got rid of Nazi Germany we will do the same with CCP China.

hmmm so CPP is good? not sure why the down votes?

Hitler didn't have hundreds of nukes...

The US will create its own chaos by electing 80 year olds.

I'm not a foreign policy expert, but the PRC seems to have very aggressive territorial ambitions. Its nine dash line incorporates vast swathes of land and water that international law recognizes as belonging to other countries.

To strengthen its claims in the West Pacific, the PRC has embarked on an unprecedented island building program in the region, and turned those islands into military outposts.

Here's a good breakdown of the history of PRC claims in the West Philippine Sea:


Sign of a coming AI arms race?

If the image generation market is getting too saturated, maybe OpenAI can sell something to the government. No one has deeper pockets.

There’s a long history of the top tier of computing hardware being export controlled. This is more of a recognition (a bit late eh?) of the utility of these graphics cards, though really it’s about time we started calling them something else.

Since we have Cold War II (with the hot war still not fought by NATO), we should expect similarities to Cold War I: bans on high-tech exports, classifying more stuff, even public lies in an attempt to misdirect the adversary (see [SDI]). Good thing if encryption is not declared munition as it was back then [W].

[SDI]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative

[W]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_from_th...

An AI arms race will be limited by the silicon it's built on. The arms race will be in the fabrication of the chips. You can only scale old nodes so far.

The cheapest solution out of all the possibilities is to just use a back channel to get them, of course.

I've always hoped that the US would restrict hardware exports under ITAR, as AI is absolutely a military weapon.

I doubt, though, that they will restrict the export of the raw material for creating AI: data.

They can’t even get their own companies to restrict the use of their citizen’s data lol.

Allowing US companies to serve people relevant ads and allowing US companies to aid our number one adversary in developing the most potentially dangerous technology humans will every create are two very different things.

> Allowing US companies to serve people relevant ads

Except these companies do way more than just serve innocent ads, as the Snowden reveals have showed; They are complicit in way more than that.

As someone from outside either country, neither the US nor China developing AI sounds particularly appealing.

Convince me that mass surveillance in a genocidal police state is not one of the most potentially dangerous technologies humans will ever create.

They can, but don't. Applying specific restrictions and switching from small fines to business-continuity-affecting rulings would solve the issue very quickly.

Or they don't because they can't? Those that would be inclined would never receive the funds and media support needed to get elected.

They intentionally choose not to.

Data can be stolen. It is in fact stolen all of the time with breaches and leaks.

More likely a landwar in asia.

Taiwan is where these cards come from right?

Thats my understanding.

Not inconceivable

For those who don't get the reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMz7JBRbmNo

The scariest aspect of geopolitics is how quickly things change. It is probably because normal times appear in slow motion geopolitically.

Between whom?

Hard to see any particular country having the desire or where for all to undertake such an endeavour.


From either of these countries perspective, this would be a civil war.

Not really a land war.

Also China has desire to resolve the civil war by other means.

Yes, but chairman Xi is stupid enough to launch an invasion even involuntarily due to military provocations (misfires) to quell unrest at home by projecting anger outside.

>where for all




That's Europe.

Eurasia, technically Russia spans both continents.

Geographically they ain't even considered separate continents.

Miiiiiight wanna review where 75% of Russia is.

So when US is fighting a war in the middle east it's actually happening in the Caribbean because US has territory there?

The 25% of Russia where people live is in Europe.

Not that there's anything coming up right now, but Pakistan is looking extremely fragile right now with a dead economy and an unprecedented natural disaster. That, along with a more right wing India can't be good news.

China and India.

Indeed it is in the past tense now unofficially, rather than completely covertly.

And so then Russia buys them via Armenia or Kazakstan for a 30% markup...

The only way to really do this is to geo-fence disable the chips.

It would take them years to acquire the GPUs at the scale that they need them. By the time they do that they're 2 generations behind. It's about adding a barrier.

This doesn't sound right to me. As a back-of-the-envelop calculation how much realistically would say the Russian government need? Even if they need in the league of 10,000s annually I think it would be easy for them to source this from a handful of friendly countries in a couple of months.

For example they could set-up a couple of "mining startups" in Dubai, Egypt, Serbia or India. Then buy 1000s of GPUs under the companies name and then put them in a yacht and ship to Moscow.

The barrier has been added too late. They have already made their first datacenter GPUs and they are no longer dependent of NVIDIA.

Replacing CUDA programs will take work, but they have enough people for that and this is an easier task than designing a GPU.

> made their first datacenter GPUs and they are no longer dependent of NVIDIA

Russia did that? Right...

You are right that the export ban for GPUs is much more likely to hurt Russia, who are nowhere near of being able to have their own GPU architecture.

China on the other hand, has already designed faster GPUs than those that are banned now for export to them, so they will not be affected. NVIDIA will be more affected by the ban than China, as they have already announced that they will have to delay the deployment of H100 until they will succeed to migrate the assembly of cards to locations outside China.

Other comments have already provided links to benchmarks comparing A100 with the Chinese Biren GPU.

I literally know people who fly into Russia with entire disassembled gaming rigs in their suitcases (and do their best to avoid customs) from Turkey, etc. I'm sure if the Russian government needed these, they'd set up an operation to let them through. Russia is not as closed off as people seem to imagine.

This is about A100 and H100 GPUs which are for datacenters. To put how many an adversary would need into perspective- Frontier uses 37,888 GPUs.

Good points

Depends on what you're really trying to do. Having to pay that putative 30% markup on hardware is going to be a crippling disadvantage for a China-based AI product, for example.

It'd be higher than 30%. As larger orders would likely get a discount off MSRP. Where-as buying through a middleman removes that 'bulk order' discount

It's also going to be a 30% additional discount on Chinese TPU equivalent chips, especially since they have 7nm production now. I foresee it backfiring.

That depends on how SMIC's ramp goes. Right now they're shipping what amount to samples only. And even then there's no chips to fab absent more development work. Making a ML accelerator is hard. If AMD and Intel (actually Google and Tesla seem closer) can't beat NVIDIA, you really think Goodix is going to get it done?

High tech is still high tech for a reason. Sure, in the long term China is going to get there eventually. But in the intermediate decade or two, there's plenty of time for trade sanctions to work to shape markets.

Are they? Do you know why China stopped submitting any supercomputers to Top500 despite widespread reports of two exascale supercomputers coming online? And why would they prioritize commercial chip sales over national security projects?

AMD and Google have already beat Nvidia at the ML accelerator hardware game in the past. Google TPUs have had the edge over Nvidia cards for a few years, and AMD spent almost a decade with an edge in compute over Nvidia at every level. It's just that Google TPUs aren't commercially available and AMD GPUs lacked the software stack and critical mass.

Actually building a fast ML accelerator is far from a monumental task. It's difficult, but well within the reach of a country which fully designed a Top10 processor by itself. And now has the means to manufacture super high end chips.

It's not a case of intermediate decade or two. The Chinese are pretty much already there. They already have at least one indigenous exascale supercomputer and their own 7nm process. They can make an ML accelerator comparable to the A100 if they want to. Believe it or not, there are only so many ways of doing matrix multiplication in hardware. The hard part is lithography, and they did it.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, but SMIC wanted to keep their 7nm production secret to reduce incentives for the US to force ASML to stop 28nm lithography machines, keeping the impression that banning the sale of EUV machinery was enough to stop their advances. That's why they mix everything under 28nm in their financial reports, to show their very strong profitability without tipping their hand.

> They can make an ML accelerator comparable to the A100 if they want to.

That is already in the past. They have already designed a datacenter GPU faster than NVIDIA A100 (made at TSMC):


Alibaba has already the fastest per socket server CPU for non-floating-point workloads, which has 128 Armv9 cores and DDR5 and PCIe5 before the launch of Intel Sapphire Rapids and AMD Genoa.

At this time, China is at least at parity with USA in chip design, so no export bans of US chips can hurt them.

Their only vulnerability is the dependence on the superior manufacturing capability of TSMC, so only banning exports from TSMC to China can hurt them (like Huawei was hurt when they were no longer able to make chips at TSMC).

Your contention is that SMIC is successfully operating a high volume 7nm process... in secret? What potential incentive would they have to do that? This isn't a spy novel; if a company has a money factory they tell their investors about it!

Why they do this can be only guessed, but it is a fact that SMIC has made chips using a 7 nm FinFET CMOS process very similar to the TSMC 7 nm process.

This has been discovered by studying with an electron microscope some samples of ASICs made at SMIC for crypto mining.

This story has been reported in a large number of publications and it is possible to buy a detailed report with the result of the investigations about the secret 7 nm process of SMIC.

Because of the similarities with the TSMC process, and because it is known that SMIC has hired former TSMC employees, it is believed that SMIC might have copied various parts of the TSMC process, which could be a reason to not bragg about it.

However such copying is not as simple as non-specialists may believe. I have worked in semiconductor manufacturing, and even if you have all the details about how a technological process is done in another plant, when using other equipment you will not be able to reproduce the results without a lot of tweaking and changes.

Having stolen information about how the competition does it is helpful and it can shorten a lot the development time, but it cannot replace the need for a team of competent engineers, able to develop such a process by themselves, even if in a longer time.

They have an incredibly strong incentive which is to buy as many 28nm lithography machines as possible before the US forces ASML not to sell those as well! So they wanted to keep 7nm production secret for as long as possible, because the US operated on the incorrect assumption that blocking EUV sales was enough to stop SMIC from moving forwards.

If you look at the SMIC earnings report, you'll notice they added a new category called "28nm or less". That's their way of telling investors they have a money factory without telling the US to sanction them even more! Also, a very large part of SMIC >32% is owned by the Chinese state, and their profits have been skyrocketing in recent years.

There is no company and yes it's a spy novel.smic and moat tech companies are being subdued and converted into CCP pawns.

Downvoter: Just literally read the news about Jack Ma and BABA and Tencent etc.

Hmm ... kind of ...

Just buy less GPUs and run them for more time. It's not like GPU clusters are running at 100% anyway.

(Also, implying China does not have enough money to buy them like that)

> Just buy less GPUs and run them for more time. It's not like GPU clusters are running at 100% anyway

"Just get way better at managing compute resources. You know, that area of research every giant, multi-national cloud provider is pouring tons of money into. Just do that."

This is not it.

Lol, how would geo-fencing even work/help here?

At the price of those things, bake a GPS IC deep into the chip

GPS wont get a signal in many datacenters given the amount of EM radiation

I've seen plenty of racks in my time with stuff like this installed https://www.gpssource.com/products/irms18-gps-integrated-rac...

That product mentions the roof antenna in the description.

GPS is not hard to spoof.

That could also be a good way to get their sales banned to Armenia and Kazakhstan.

And then Kazakhstan buys them from the Saudis or from Turkey, who are de facto US allies (Turkey is even a NATO member, a big one). The US can try and do something about it, as supposedly the CIA has just tried to do a couple of weeks ago in connection to the recent sanctions against Russia, but what do you when the Turks tell you to shove it? (which is what Turkey's response to the CIA demands was). This is one of the "best" sources I could find in English [1] because, obviously, the Western media has not reported on it.

[1] https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/CIA-Allegedly-Targets-Tu...

Bingo. The current work-around to get electronics to Russia is via Dubai. It's harder with Turkey because their airlines don't allow lithium batteries for safety reasons.

any vendor has an owner who very likely enjoys traveling to the west, banking there etc. risking being on some black list for a marginal gain is not very attractive prospect

Hackers always find a way.

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