Chipmaker NVIDIA is reportedly designing new artificial intelligence chips specifically for the Chinese market that aim to comply with recently updated US export restrictions, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The new chips – with codenames HGX H20, L20, and L2 – are engineered to deliver reduced computing power compared to NVIDIA’s flagship offerings available in the US like the A100, H100, and RTX 4090 GPUs. By staying under power thresholds outlined under new US export control rules, the China-focused chips may avoid running afoul of trade limitations.
The release of the weakened chips underscores NVIDIA’s desire to maintain access to China’s massive AI market amid tightening US trade rules meant to limit the use of advanced semiconductors in Chinese military and surveillance applications. Sources, such as WSJ and Reuters, say that NVIDIA expects to begin selling the new chips in China before year-end.
However, some Chinese customers may be dissatisfied with the reduced capabilities of the China-specific chips. As a result, domestic technology giants like Baidu, Xiaomi, and Huawei have ventured into efforts to design homemade alternatives that are not subject to US export regulations. Still, NVIDIA’s robust AI software gives it an advantage over upstart chipmakers, analysts note.
The launch of the tailored chips for China highlights the delicate balancing act NVIDIA faces between adherence to US policy and retention of a key growth market. The company may unveil details on the new products at a technology conference slated for November 16.