US bans exports of H800 and RTX 4090 to China
GPUs of certain performance threshold may not be shipped to China.
NVIDIA is confronting a significant challenge due to the newly imposed licensing restrictions on certain graphics processors and accelerators. The company had already invested in developing custom products based on Ampere and Hopper architectures, derived from their original A100 and H100 series, in an effort to comply with U.S. export regulations. However, they now find themselves facing a fresh set of rules that could potentially hinder the shipment of these products.
Unlike the previous restrictions that focused on on-device connection speed, the new licensing rules are based on a performance threshold. This change in criteria led to the inclusion of the custom A800 and H800 chips for China as well. To compound the issue, even the RTX 4090 gaming GPU falls under the purview of these new rules, as confirmed by NVIDIA in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
On October 17, 2023, the U.S. Government, or USG, announced that it submitted the Interim Final Rule, “Implementation of Additional Export Controls: Certain Advanced Computing Items; Supercomputer and Semiconductor End Use; Updates and Corrections” (the “Interim Final Rule”) for publication in the Federal Register.
The Interim Final Rule amends ECCN 3A090 and 4A090 and imposes additional licensing requirements for exports to China and Country Groups D1, D4, and D5 (including but not limited to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam, but excluding Israel) of the Company’s integrated circuits exceeding certain performance thresholds (including but not limited to the A100, A800, H100, H800, L40, L40S, and RTX 4090). Any system that incorporates one or more of the covered integrated circuits (including but not limited to NVIDIA DGX and HGX systems) is also covered by the new licensing requirement. The licensing requirement includes future NVIDIA integrated circuits, boards, or systems classified with ECCN 3A090 or 4A090, achieving certain total processing performance and/or performance density.
The licensing requirement applies to the export of products classified ECCN 3A090 or 4A090 to a party headquartered in, or with an ultimate parent headquartered in, Country Group D5, including China.
NVIDIA SEC Filing
The U.S. administration is updating these rules to limit access to high-performance computing chips, primarily with the aim of curbing China’s capacity to advance its technologies, especially in military applications. These new regulations will also close certain loopholes that allowed foreign companies to purchase such chips and export them to embargoed regions within China.
NVIDIA is now confronted with a significant challenge, particularly concerning its consumer-grade RTX 4090 series. There are numerous companies in China involved in the final packaging of these cards, and many board partners exclusively operate in this country.
It’s worth noting that the new set of requirements is set to take effect in just 29 days, which means that NVIDIA has a relatively short window to address and adapt to these regulatory changes.