US orders Nvidia to halt sale of $400M worth of GPUs to China

Nvidia logo on phone in front stock ticker.
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Update: After US officials made a big splash last week by announcing that Nvidia was to halt sales of its datacentre GPUs to China, it may already have been offered a temporary reprieve from the sanctions.

While Nvidia will still require an export license to sell to customers in China, Nvidia is able to continue to support its US customers, existing A100 projects, and ensure continued logistic operations via its Hong Kong business until September 1, 2023. Here's the SEC filing in full:

"The U.S. government has authorized exports, reexports, and in-country transfers needed to continue NVIDIA Corporation’s, or the Company’s, development of H100 integrated circuits after the Company filed its Current Report on Form 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 31, 2022. The authorization also allows the Company to perform exports needed to provide support for U.S. customers of A100 through March 1, 2023. Additionally, the U.S. government authorized A100 and H100 order fulfillment and logistics through the Company’s Hong Kong facility through September 1, 2023."

Original story: On Wednesday, US officials ordered Nvidia to halt sales of two of its chips to China. This means that Nvidia won't be allowed to sell its A100 and H100-powered data center super-GPUs to China.

Nvidia told Reuters that US officials claim this new rule "will address the risk that products may be used in, or diverted to, a 'military end use' or 'military end user' in China." 

According to the SEC filings, Nvidia stands to lose $400 million in sales from the two chips being banned, potentially hurting China's advanced computing capabilities for civilian and military applications.

"We are working with our customers in China to satisfy their planned or future purchases with alternative products and may seek licenses where replacements aren’t sufficient," an Nvidia representative told me. "The only current products that the new licensing requirement applies to are A100, H100, and systems such as DGX that include them."

Outside of the order, the US Department of Commerce has not explained what prompted the decision, outside of keeping "advanced technologies out of the wrong hands." 

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The Chinese foreign ministry responded in state media on Thursday by accusing the US of imposing a "tech blockade" that would affect the stability of global supply chains. The Chinese commerce ministry says the US "continues to abuse export control measures to restrict semiconductor-related items to China."

Nvidia will be applying for a license to continue some exports to China, but hasn't said if it expects the US will grant the exemption. The SEC filing also noted that Nvidia does not currently sell any of its chips to Russia. 

This isn't the first time the US has stopped chipmakers from selling to China. In 2019, the US government put smartphone maker Huawei on an export blacklist, citing national security concerns. This prevented US suppliers from selling to the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker at the time. 

AMD has also stated that it will prevent its MI250 AI chips from being exported to China, although the company told Reuters that it believes the new rules will not affect business. Regardless, these new bans won't help the already tense relationship between the US and China. 

Jorge Jimenez
Hardware writer, Human Pop-Tart

Jorge is a hardware writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, he's reviewing all sorts of gaming hardware, from laptops with the latest mobile GPUs to gaming chairs with built-in back massagers. He's been covering games and tech for over ten years and has written for Dualshockers, WCCFtech, Tom's Guide, and a bunch of other places on the world wide web.