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

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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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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.” 

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 (opens in new tab) between the US and China.