[News] NVIDIA’s China-Exclusive H20 to Begin Pre-sales Next Month

2024-02-29 Semiconductors editor

NVIDIA, the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) chips, is set to commence pre-orders for its AI chip H20 specially designed for the Chinese market by the end of March this year in response to US export bans, according to sources cited by a report from STAR Market Daily.

However, due to consecutive reductions in specifications, the cost-performance ratio has diminished, prompting cautious attitudes among Chinese distributors.

The report further mentions that by the end of 2022, the US Department of Commerce restricted the export of NVIDIA AI chips to China due to concerns about their potential military use. In response, NVIDIA has repeatedly reduced product performance to comply with US regulations. The H20 chip, derived from the H800, is specifically designed as a ‘special edition’ for the Chinese market.

Citing industry sources, STAR Market Daily‘s report also states that H20 will be available for pre-order following NVIDIA’s GTC 2024 conference (March 18th to 21st), with deliveries possible within a month. The sources note that H20’s performance is approximately one-fourth that of H100, resulting in a less favorable cost-performance ratio. Additionally, production capacity is unable to meet demand, with mass production expected to commence in the second half of this year.

A distributor in Beijing pointed out that currently, there is not significant demand for the H20 chip, primarily due to its relatively low cost-performance ratio. Chinese-made AI chips serve as viable alternatives.

The same distributor noted that most of the foundational technology for computing power providers is still supported by NVIDIA. The advantages of adopting the H20 lie in its compliance and low migration costs. However, the trend toward self-developed AI chip in China is a long-term certainty, presenting a choice between the two options.

The distributor further emphasized that NVIDIA’s introduction of the H20 is primarily aimed at stabilizing its presence in the Chinese market. As long as the product specifications slightly surpass those of domestically produced chips, it should suffice. However, whether there is demand for this chip still requires market validation.

Another distributor from the Shenzhen cited in the report also stated that it is uncertain whether they will stock the H20 chip, as their decision depends on subsequent market demand.

Regarding the need for H20, TrendForce believes Chinese companies will continue to buy existing AI chips in the short term. NVIDIA’s GPU AI accelerator chips remain a top priority—including H20, L20, and L2—designed specifically for the Chinese market following the ban.

At the same time, major Chinese AI firms like Huawei, will continue to develop general-purpose AI chips to provide AI solutions for local businesses. Beyond developing AI chips, these companies aim to establish a domestic AI server ecosystem in China.

TrendForce recognizes that a key factor in achieving success will come from the support of the Chinese government through localized projects, such as those involving Chinese telecom operators, which encourage the adoption of domestic AI chips.

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(Photo credit: NVIDIA)

Please note that this article cites information from Commercial Times and STAR Market Daily.