[News] US Reportedly Targets Key Chip Manufacturing Equipment, Urges Allies to Tighten Maintenance Services

2024-03-29 Semiconductors editor

The US government, according to a report from Reuters, is asking allies to stop domestic companies from servicing certain chip-making tools for Chinese customers, a U.S. Commerce department official said on March 27th.

“We’re pushing for not servicing of those key components and these are the discussions we are having with our allies,” stated export controls chief Alan Estevez, as reported by Reuters during an annual conference. “We are working with our allies to determine what is important to service and what is not important to service,” hinting that the US is not proposing restrictions on non-core components that Chinese firms can repair themselves.

The recent trigger for heightened vigilance in the US was Huawei’s launch of a new 5G smartphone in August last year, equipped with domestically manufactured advanced 7-nanometer chips from China. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the chips supplied to Huawei by its partner SMIC are manufactured using equipment from US suppliers such as Applied Materials and Dutch company ASML.

Since then, the US has reportedly been increasing pressure on allies such as the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, and Japan, urging them to further tighten restrictions on China’s access to advanced chip technology.

Additionally, the US has restricted equipment suppliers like Applied Materials from providing maintenance services for entities in China subject to sanctions. However, neither the Netherlands nor Japan has implemented similar maintenance bans on their domestic companies, prompting the US to encourage allied firms to follow suit.

Gina Raimondo, the US Secretary of Commerce, previously responded by stating that the US will take “as strong and effective action as possible” to uphold national security interests.

Companies that have been listed on the Entity List by the US Department of Commerce include Huawei, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), and Shanghai Micro Electronics. Additionally, China’s other major memory manufacturer, Yangtze Memory Technology Corp, was added to this restriction list in 2022.

Read more

(Photo credit: iStock)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters and Bloomberg .