[News] Expert Insights on NVIDIA’s AI Chip Strategy – Downgraded Version Targeted for China, High-End Versions Aimed Overseas

2024-01-23 Semiconductors editor

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang has reportedly gone to Taiwan once again, with reports suggesting a recent visit to China. Industry sources believe NVIDIA is planning to introduce downgraded AI chips to bypass U.S. restrictions on exporting high-end chips to China. Huang’s visit to China is seen as an effort to alleviate concerns among customers about adopting the downgraded versions.

Experts indicate that due to the expanded U.S. semiconductor restriction on China, NVIDIA’s sales in the Chinese market will decline. To counter this, NVIDIA might adjust its product portfolio and expand sales of high-end AI chips outside China.

The export of NVIDIA’s A100 and H100 chips to China and Hong Kong was prohibited in September 2022. Following that, the A800 and H800 chips, which were further designed with downgraded adjustments for the Chinese market, were also prohibited for export to China in October of the previous year.

In November 2023, the NVIDIA’s management acknowledged the significant impact of the U.S. restrictions on China’s revenue for the fourth quarter of 2023 but expressed confidence that revenue from other regions can offset this impact.

CEO Jensen Huang revealed in December in Singapore that NVIDIA was closely collaborating with the U.S. government to ensure compliance with export restrictions on new chips for the Chinese market.

According to reports in Chinese media The Paper, Jensen Huang recently made a low-profile visit to China. The market is closely watching the status of NVIDIA’s AI chip strategy in China and the company’s subsequent development strategies in response to U.S. restrictions. The fate of the newly designed AI chips, H20, L20, and L2, to comply with U.S. export regulations remains uncertain and will be closely observed.

Liu Pei-Chen, a researcher and director at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, discussed with CNA’s reporter about NVIDIA’s active planning to introduce a downgraded version of AI chips in China. 

The most urgent task, according to Liu, is to persuade Chinese customers to adopt these downgraded AI chips. Chinese clients believe that there isn’t a significant performance gap between NVIDIA’s downgraded AI chips and domestically designed AI chips.

Liu mentioned that this is likely the reason why Jensen Huang visited China. It serves as an opportunity to promote NVIDIA’s downgraded AI chips and alleviate concerns among Chinese customers. 

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(Photo credit: NVIDIA)

Please note that this article cites information from CNA.