China gets high-end Nvidia AI chips despite U.S. export ban

China needs the AI-ready chips for their own LLM development

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Nvidia AI chips reach China

In a surprising twist that feels like something out of a high-stakes tech thriller, China has managed to get its hands on some of the most advanced Nvidia AI chips. According to Reuters, this happened despite a recent U.S. ban aimed at restricting the country’s access to such cutting-edge technology.

Allegedly, the Chinese entities cleverly acquired these chips through resellers. This move came after the U.S. had already tightened its grip by expanding a ban to keep these technological marvels out of China’s reach.

Did the chips reach China before or after the ban?

The plot thickens as we learn that these transactions weren’t just isolated incidents. Ten Chinese entities, all with government ties, got their hands on Nvidia’s best AI chips. Reuters also reported about a similar incident three months ago, implicating Chinese military beneficiaries.

These chips found their way into server products crafted by big names like Super Micro Computer Inc, Dell Technologies Inc, and Taiwan’s Gigabyte Technology. This happen between November 20 and February 28, right in the shadow of the U.S. widening its export restrictions to specifically include these Nvidia AI chips.

Now, here’s where it gets a bit murky. The Reuters report that brought this all to light couldn’t pin down whether these chips were scooped up by the resellers before the U.S. sanctions clamped down. And it’s anyone’s guess whether this revelation will draw more government scrutiny towards Nvidia and other tech suppliers to China. The U.S. had its reasons for the ban, citing concerns over the potential military applications of AI by China, and also blocked the export of advanced chipmaking technology to the country.

However, when contacted by Reuters, Nvidia said that the tenders mentioned products that were exported and widely available before the restrictions.

They do not indicate that any of our partners violated the export control rules and are a negligible fraction of the products sold worldwide.

Nvidia spokeperson for Reuters

Despite these restrictions, which were supposed to hamstring China’s AI ambitions, the country’s tech giants like Baidu Inc, Inc, and Alibaba Group have been pushing ahead, developing their own in-house AI models. There’s talk of Chinese AI developers eventually switching to locally-developed silicon, a move that could be a boon for China’s chipmakers. However, the quality of these homegrown AI chips is still up in the air, especially when you consider that Nvidia’s chips are seen as the pinnacle of AI technology available today.

What do you think about this whole issue? Let’s discuss it in the comments section below.

More about the topics: AI, CPU, nvidia