On-Prem

Systems

Chipmakers cripple products to dodge US China ban

Nvidia’s A800 is the new A100, but slower, Biren’s A100 now 64GBps slower


Systems that once contained Nvidia and TSMC chips, which are now restricted by the US government, are popping up this week with slower specs to meet US export controls to China and evade the hassles of obtaining special licenses.

Chinese server maker Inspur was spotted swapping out the its A100 Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) in its NF5688MG [PDF] for an A800 in updated promotional material.

H3C, the China-based Tsinghua Group and Hewlett Packard mashup, are also suddenly featuring the A800 on select servers.

According to specs provided online by Chinese server-maker Omnisky, which also uses the chip, it remains eerily similar to the A100, [PDF] but with a 40GB PCIe option available in the A800, in addition to a 80GB PCIe and 80GB SXM available in both models.

The A800 has a degraded transfer rate of 400GBps across all three variations, as opposed to the 600GBps in the A100, thus falling in line with US law that restrict 600GBps and above being shipped to the Middle Kingdom. The Register asked Nvidia about the A800 and will update if substantial information arises.

An Nvidia spokesperson told The Reg:

The Nvidia A800 GPU, which went into production in Q3 2022, is another alternative product to the Nvidia A100 GPU for customers in China. The A800 meets the US government's clear test for reduced export control and cannot be programmed to exceed it.

Nvidia’s NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPU, the A100x, which adds a data processing unit (SmartNIC) to the A100, and the H100 GPU that Nvidia claims will enhance natural language processing apps, were all put under a new license requirement as worries swarmed that they would end up in Chinese or Russian military hands.

Nvidia warned in a late August SEC filing that new US export license requirements could hinder the development of the H100 and support for A100 customers and potentially require some operations be moved out of China. The company also said its Q3 2022 forecast could be rendered inaccurate as it included $400 million in sales to China that might not happen.

Meanwhile, GPUs still in development and produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) under contract for Alibaba and startup Biren Technology also reportedly have reduced processor speeds.

China's domestic chip facilities still have a long way to go to be globally competitive. However, Biren did have a frontrunner in the making, but amid uncertainty about its potential legality, TSMC had reportedly put the brakes on the silicon.

Biren’s BR100 was pitched as an Nvidia H100 rival. The drag of the chip’s transfer rate from 640GBps to 576GBps, at least in its marketing material if not in real life, would allow TSMC to produce the GPU without facing US scrutiny. ®

Send us news
34 Comments

US think tank says China would probably lose if it tries to invade Taiwan

But even a short conflict would wreck the economy, which would be bad news for semiconductor supplies

US chip ban left back door in Beijing-controlled Macau for months

Until Tuesday, when the former Portuguese colony was added to the 'You Shall Not Pass' list

US pressures Asian allies to join crusade against Chinese chipmakers

American ambassador to Japan wants a unified front against the Middle Kingdom

China aims to grow local infosec industry by 30 percent a year, to $22 billion by 2025

Optimistically suggests international collaboration – including on standards – will help it get there

TSMC bucks chip biz trend with Q4 sales lift, but will cut spending in 2023

Advanced chipmaking lifts world's biggest chipmaker, but softer demand, US trade issues lie ahead

Taiwan's chip exports rose as China's imports fell in 2022

US export controls having an effect, but semi industry in for a rough ride everywhere

Asia rules the mobile world: more users, more often, generating more cash

Chinese developers are cashing in as the region buys in to TikTok and games

Like Uber, but for China: Beijing creates state-owned meta rideshare service

Private services smeared for 'disorderly expansion and data security problems'

Hong Kong ups its SEO game to stop Google playing a protest song as its national anthem

It's not the anthem – it's the algorithm

Happy Lunar New Year: Beijing warns of enhanced surveillance during celebrations

Censors are on the lookout for showering under a waterfall of money, overeating, and more conventional sins

Oh, WoW: Chinese gamers to be cut off from Blizzard games next week

Contractual mess has players wondering if preserving progress in Warcraft, Overwatch, and StarCraft will be possible

China's Hisense bakes Teams into Android-powered commercial displays

Sees collaborationware as its route into foreign markets