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HPC-AI Chips in the News: NVIDIA, AMD Ensnared in US-China Trade War; Arm Sues Qualcomm

NVIDIA and AMD, makers of advanced GPUs used in HPC-AI workloads, became embroiled this week in the deteriorating relations and ongoing trade war between the US and the People’s Republic of China.

Yesterday, Nvidia said it has been prohibited by the US government from selling to the PRC its A100 Tensor Core GPU, on the market since 2020, as well as its forthcoming H100 Tensor Core GPU, scheduled for availability in Q3 2022.

According to news stories, Nvidia could take a sales revenue hit of $400 million per quarter, though the company can continue to develop the H100 with its Chinese development partners. In addition, NVIDIA is allowed to ship its GPUs to the UK and France from its Hong Kong facility, according to a report on CNBC.

AMD also was told to stop selling to China its Instinct MI250 GPUs – which helps power the world’s no. 1 supercomputer, Frontier – but the impact on the company is expected to be minor because AMD does relatively little business in China. AMD said it will be allowed to keep shipping its MI100 GPU to China.

CPUs from NVIDIA and AMD were not included in the ban.

NVIDIA’s stock price dropped 8 percent on the news by Thursday afternoon, AMD’s stock was down 5 percent.

The new bans extend to Russia, though NVIDIA and AMD stopped shipping chips to that country after its invasion of Ukraine.

“While we are not in a position to outline specific policy changes at this time, we are taking a comprehensive approach to implement additional actions necessary related to technologies, end-uses, and end-users to protect US national security and foreign policy interests,” a US Department of Commerce spokesperson said in a statement.

In other chip industry news, chip designer Arm – the object of failed acquisition earlier this year by NVIDIA – has filed suit against Qualcomm over the latter’s $1.4 billion purchase of Nuvia. UK-based Arm is attempting to required the destruction of designs developed by Nuvia under its license with Arm.

Arm claims its approval was required before Qualcomm could transfer licenses from Nuvia, which Qualcomm acquired in March 2021, over to Qualcomm. Arm reported it tried for more than 12 months to come to an agreement with Qualcomm, then canceled the licenses last February.

Qualcomm issued a statement that Arm does not have the right “to interfere with Qualcomm’s or Nuvia’s innovations…, and we are confident those rights will be affirmed.”

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