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[News] NVIDIA Rumored to Downgrade AI Chips for China Amid U.S. Restrictions, Year-End Mass Production Expected

NVIDIA and Intel are adapting to the latest U.S. chip export restrictions by introducing downgraded AI chips specifically tailored for the Chinese market, UDN News said.

According to insider from the China Star Market, a Chinese media, NVIDIA has developed three downgraded AI chip models for the Chinese market. Intel also plans to release downgraded Gaudi 2 chip with an aim to US restriction.

NVIDIA’s latest downgraded AI chips, including HGX H20, L20 PCle, and L2 PCle, are anticipated to be unveiled after November 16th. Chinese companies are likely to receive samples in the coming days. These three chips, derived from the modification of NVIDIA H100, will align their performance with parameters below the new U.S. regulations. Ongoing communication with NVIDIA suggests mass production is slated for the year-end, said by industry sources.

Besides, Yicai also confirms from multiple NVIDIA supply chain sources. The three AI chip products are designed for cloud training, cloud inference, and edge inference, with specific launch times pending confirmation. Sampling is projected between November and December this year, followed by mass production from December this year to January next year.

On the Intel front, there are rumors of a response plan. As reported by The Paper, Intel is planning to release an improved version of its Gaudi 2 chip. Although the rumor exists, specific details are yet to be disclosed.

Since the U.S. government introduced chip export control to China last year, NVIDIA initially designed downgraded AI chips A800 and H800 for Chinese companies. However, new regulations in October this year by the U.S. Department of Commerce brought A800, H800, L40S, and other chips under control. Failure to secure export permission may necessitate order cancellations for NVIDIA.

(Image: Nvidia)


[News] Chinese GPU Startup Moore Threads Adapts Workforce Reduction after U.S. Sanctions, Remains Optimistic

Following recent sanctions imposed by the United States, Chinese GPU startup Moore Threads has initiated workforce adjustments. The company announced that these changes will be completed within the week, emphasizing that it’s a necessary step for their ongoing growth. Despite the challenges, Moore Threads is confident that the Chinese GPU industry is not facing its darkest days.

According to Jiemian News, Moore Threads’ CEO, Jianzhong Zhang, expressed that the personnel adjustments are a pragmatic choice to ensure the company’s continued development. He acknowledged the difficulty of this decision but hopes for understanding from the team.

Zhang also underlined that, in this period of both challenges and opportunities, he firmly believes that the Chinese GPU industry is not in its “darkest hours” but rather has a world of possibilities.

The company plans to restructure its organization, establishing two strategic groups, the AI Strategy Group (AISG) and the Metaverse Computing Strategy Group (MCSG), to integrate resources and drive product technology implementations. In terms of workforce performance, the company will conduct routine job position realignments to achieve more efficient personnel matching and compensation structures, with a particular focus on core GPU research and development. These adjustments are expected to be finalized within the week.
(Image: Moore Threads)


[News] Nvidia says US speeded up new export restrictions on AI chips

Nvidia has announced that the White House’s embargo on exporting advanced artificial intelligence (AI) chips to China will take effect earlier than anticipated, with no expected significant impact on the company’s short-term earnings.

On October 24th, Nvidia issued an announcement through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), stating that the U.S. government had notified that the temporary final rule of October 18, titled “Implementation of Additional Export Controls: Certain Advanced Computing Items; Supercomputer and Semiconductor End Use; Updates and Corrections,” would be immediately enforced. This rule is applicable to products related to data centers with a “total processing performance” of 4800 or higher. Nvidia’s affected products include A100, A800, H100, H800, and L40S.

Nvidia clarified that the originally scheduled implementation of the authorization provisions would have occurred 30 days after the regulations were issued on October 17. Given the strong global demand for Nvidia products, the early enforcement of the U.S. government’s authorization provisions is not expected to significantly affect its financial reports in the near future.

According to Reuters, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which is also impacted by the White House’s export ban, did not respond to media inquiries, and the U.S. Department of Commerce declined to comment.

Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon had previously noted that AMD’s current AI chip “MI250” on the market may also face constraints due to the latest restrictions, and the forthcoming “MI300” could encounter challenges.

Intel, which began selling the “Gaudi 2” chip in China in July 2023, stated that the company is “reviewing the regulations and assessing the potential impacts.” Intel had previously developed a specialized version of Gaudi 2 to comply with the advanced chip export ban imposed by the Washington authorities in 2022.
(Image: Nvidia)



[News] ASML’s Q3 Orders Plummet 40%, 46% Revenue from China – U.S. Ban’s Long-Term Impact

Dutch semiconductor equipment giant ASML has released its Q3 2023 financial report, showing a significant decline in orders for the third quarter, far below expectations. This suggests signs of weakened demand for ASML’s chip manufacturing equipment in the semiconductor industry during a lackluster economic climate. In its financial statement on the 18th, ASML revealed that the total value of orders received in the third quarter from July to September decreased by 42% compared to the previous quarter, amounting to 2.6 billion euros (approximately 2.8 billion USD). In contrast, analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated an average order value of 4.5 billion euros.

ASML is the sole manufacturer of the cutting-edge semiconductor lithography equipment required for semiconductor production. Earlier this year, they experienced significant revenue growth as Chinese semiconductor firms rushed to place substantial orders before the U.S. export control measures came into effect.

During the video interview when announcing the financial results, ASML’s CFO Roger Dassen, stated that the overall economic situation has not improved,” There’s still pockets of inflation. We still see interest rates at pretty elevated levels. We still see GDP growth in some economies that is not where people expected that to be. Then I think there are quite some geopolitical tensions.”

ASML’s Q3: China Sales at 46% with Mature Process Clients

China accounted for 46% of ASML’s Q3 sales, higher than 24% in the second quarter and 8% in the first quarter. Taiwan accounted for 24% of sales, while South Korea accounted for 20%. As ASML’s CFO, Roger Dasse explained, the sales in China were notably high due to shipments serving mid-critical and mature nodes based on earlier purchase orders. Shifts in demand timing from other customers have raised our Chinese customers’ order-fill rate, resulting in increased sales in China. All shipments complied with export regulations.

In terms of equipment type sales in the third quarter, ASML sold a total of 105 new lithography machines, including 7 second-hand machines, categorized by product type as follows: 11 EUV machines, 32 ArFi (immersion DUV lithography machines), 9 ArF dry (dry DUV lithography machines), 44 KrF machines, and 16 I-Line machines.

Regarding terminal applications, lithography machines for manufacturing logic chips represented 76% of sales, while those for manufacturing memory chips accounted for 24% of sales. In terms of revenue, ArFi immersion lithography machines accounted for a substantial 48%, with EUV lithography machines at 35%.

“Our Chinese customers say: We are happy to take the machines that others don’t want,” Peter Wennink, ASML’s CEO said. “Because their fabs are ready. They can take the tools.”.

U.S. Export Rules Impact on ASML’s 1980Di Tool and Sales

ASML is targeted by U.S. efforts to curb the export of advanced technology to China. Earlier this year, the Biden administration convinced the Dutch government not to allow ASML to ship some immersion DUV equipment to China without a permit. These Dutch restrictions are scheduled to take effect on January 1st of the following year. Currently, ASML has already been prohibited from selling its most advanced EUV machines to China.

During the press conference after the financial report, Peter Wennink mentioned that despite the expanded export control lists implemented by the U.S. and Dutch governments, he expects strong demand from Chinese semiconductor manufacturers. Additionally, another ASML product not covered by the Dutch export permit rules for this year, the 1980Di deep ultraviolet exposure machine (DUV), has now been restricted according to the new export regulations announced by the U.S. on the 17th of the month.

1980Di is used to assist in the production of relatively advanced computer chips, as well as mid-range and older chips. Wennink stated, “In principle, the 1980 series will be subject to export control regulations, but only when… (they are) used in advanced semiconductor manufacturing.” He also mentioned that only a few Chinese semiconductor factories are considered “advanced.”

ASML anticipates steady operations in 2024

According to a report by Money DJ, ASML also announced its financial forecast for the fourth quarter of 2023, estimating net sales of approximately 6.7 billion to 7.1 billion euros, with a gross margin ranging from 50% to 51%. Research and development costs are estimated at around 1.03 billion euros, while selling and administrative expenses (SG&A) are estimated at 285 million euros. ASML confirms that, as previously anticipated, 2023 has seen robust growth, with a projected increase in net sales approaching 30% and a slight improvement in gross margin, compared to 2022.

ASML stated that the semiconductor industry is currently experiencing a cyclical downturn, with customers anticipating a turnaround in demand by the end of the year. Since customers remain uncertain about the strength and pace of the industry demand recovery, 2024 is expected to be a transitional year. The company is adopting a more conservative estimate, with 2024 revenue expected to be similar to 2023. Preparations are being made for significant growth in 2025.

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(Image: ASML)


[News] Huawei May Emerge as a Winner as the U.S. Tightens Export Restrictions

The U.S. government tightened its control over exports of advanced computing and semiconductor manufacturing products to China on October 17th. The Entity List now includes more Chinese companies, including two prominent Chinese GPU manufacturers, Biren Technology and Moore Threads. These new restrictions further limit the export of Nvidia A800 and H800 chips.

The new regulations also block chips transferring to China through third-party countries, broadening the export restrictions to include Chinese overseas subsidiaries companies and additional 21 countries.

As reported from TechNews, Nomura Securities are unsurprising to Biren Technology and Moore Threads’ addition to the Entity List. These two chip makers primarily rely on TSMC as their main partner. Due to their limited production capacity, the influence on TSMC is anticipated to be minimal.

Since the U.S. initiated export controls on AI chips in October last year, operations of Biren Technology have continuously been affected. This new development is anticipated to have a relatively limited impact on the Chinese IC design market.

However, the import of ASML’s 1980i DUV model into China may be restricted without U.S. approval. Nomura Securities believe that this could negatively affect the Chinese semiconductor market, potentially causing delays in the expansion plans for 28nm production capacity for some Chinese semiconductor companies. These companies will also likely continue to postpone the purchase of domestic equipment.

Since the import of Nvidia A800, H800, and L40S into China might not be allowed, Nomura Securities consider this unfavorable news for the market. Nvidia may soon introduce new versions to comply with the new regulations. In this scenario, Huawei, with its capacity to design and manufacture advanced chips within China, may ultimately emerge as the most significant beneficiary in the Chinese market, as most Chinese GPU companies are already under sanctions.

The updated U.S. export restrictions also imply that more foreign manufacturers of AI chips will need to adjust their product specifications to meet the new requirements.

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(Image: Flickr)

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