Tag Archives: Export

NVIDIA Offers A800 GPU To Bypass US Ban On China!

How NVIDIA A800 Bypasses US Chip Ban On China!

Find out how NVIDIA created the new A800 GPU to bypass the US ban on sale of advanced chips to China!

 

NVIDIA Offers A800 GPU To Bypass US Ban On China!

Two months after it was banned by the US government from selling high-performance AI chips to China, NVIDIA introduced a new A800 GPU designed to bypass those restrictions.

The new NVIDIA A800 is based on the same Ampere microarchitecture as the A100, which was used as the performance baseline by the US government.

Despite its numerically larger model number (the lucky number 8 was probably picked to appeal to the Chinese), this is a detuned part, with slightly reduced performance to meet export control limitations.

The NVIDIA A800 GPU, which went into production in Q3, is another alternative product to the NVIDIA A100 GPU for customers in China.

The A800 meets the U.S. government’s clear test for reduced export control and cannot be programmed to exceed it.

NVIDIA is probably hoping that the slightly slower NVIDIA A800 GPU will allow it to continue supplying China with A100-level chips that are used to power supercomputers and high-performance datacenters for artificial intelligence applications.

As I will show you in the next section, except in very high-end applications, there won’t be truly significant performance difference between the A800 and the A100. So NVIDIA customers who want or need the A100 will have no issue opting for the A800 instead.

However, this can only be a stopgap fix, as NVIDIA is stuck selling A100-level chips to China until and unless the US government changes its mind.

Read more : AMD, NVIDIA Banned From Selling AI Chips To China!

 

How Fast Is The NVIDIA A800 GPU?

The US government considers the NVIDIA A100 as the performance baseline for its export control restrictions on China.

Any chip equal or faster to that Ampere-based chip, which was launched on May 14, 2020, is forbidden to be sold or exported to China. But as they say, the devil is in the details.

The US government didn’t specify just how much slower chips must be, to qualify for export to China. So NVIDIA could technically get away by slightly detuning the A100, while offering almost the same performance level.

And that was what NVIDIA did with the A800 – it is basically the A100 with a 33% slower NVLink interconnect speed. NVIDIA also limited the maximum number of GPUs supported in a single server to 8.

That only slightly reduces the performance of A800 servers, compare to A100 servers, while offering the same amount of GPU compute performance. Most users will not notice the difference.

The only significant impediment is on the very high-end – Chinese companies are now restricted to a maximum of eight GPUs per server, instead of up to sixteen.

To show you what I mean, I dug into the A800 specifications, and compared them to the A100 below:

NVIDIA A100 vs A800 : 80GB PCIe Version

Specifications A100
80GB PCIe
A800
80GB PCIe
FP64 9.7 TFLOPS
FP64 Tensor Core 19.5 TFLOPS
FP32 19.5 TFLOPS
Tensor Float 32 156 TFLOPS
BFLOAT 16 Tensor Core 312 TFLOPS
FP16 Tensor Core 312 TFLOPS
INT8 Tensor Core 624 TOPS
GPU Memory 80 GB HBM2
GPU Memory Bandwifth 1,935 GB/s
TDP 300 W
Multi-Instance GPU Up to 7 MIGs @ 10 GB
Interconnect NVLink : 600 GB/s
PCIe Gen4 : 64 GB/s
NVLink : 400 GB/s
PCIe Gen4 : 64 GB/s
Server Options 1-8 GPUs

NVIDIA A100 vs A800 : 80GB SXM Version

Specifications A100
80GB SXM
A800
80GB SXM
FP64 9.7 TFLOPS
FP64 Tensor Core 19.5 TFLOPS
FP32 19.5 TFLOPS
Tensor Float 32 156 TFLOPS
BFLOAT 16 Tensor Core 312 TFLOPS
FP16 Tensor Core 312 TFLOPS
INT8 Tensor Core 624 TOPS
GPU Memory 80 GB HBM2
GPU Memory Bandwifth 2,039 GB/s
TDP 400 W
Multi-Instance GPU Up to 7 MIGs @ 10 GB
Interconnect NVLink : 600 GB/s
PCIe Gen4 : 64 GB/s
NVLink : 400 GB/s
PCIe Gen4 : 64 GB/s
Server Options 4/ 8 / 16 GPUs 4 / 8 GPUs

NVIDIA A100 vs A800 : 40GB PCIe Version

Specifications A100
40GB PCIe
A800
40GB PCIe
FP64 9.7 TFLOPS
FP64 Tensor Core 19.5 TFLOPS
FP32 19.5 TFLOPS
Tensor Float 32 156 TFLOPS
BFLOAT 16 Tensor Core 312 TFLOPS
FP16 Tensor Core 312 TFLOPS
INT8 Tensor Core 624 TOPS
GPU Memory 40 GB HBM2
GPU Memory Bandwifth 1,555 GB/s
TDP 250 W
Multi-Instance GPU Up to 7 MIGs @ 10 GB
Interconnect NVLink : 600 GB/s
PCIe Gen4 : 64 GB/s
NVLink : 400 GB/s
PCIe Gen4 : 64 GB/s
Server Options 1-8 GPUs

 

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How Biren Got Its Own AI Chips Banned At TSMC!

TSMC stopped making artificial intelligence chips for China’s Biren Technology, and it was all Biren’s own fault!

 

TSMC Stops Making Biren AI Chips Over US Sanctions

TSMC – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company – has suspended production of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) chips for China’s Biren Technology.

TSMC was forced to make this decision after public domain information revealed that the Biren BR100 and BR104 chips outperformed the NVIDIA A100 chip, which was used as the baseline of US sanctions.

While TSMC has not reached a conclusion on whether the top-of-the-line Biren BR100 or the slower BR104 meet or exceed US government threshold on advanced AI chip technology restrictions, it decided to stop production and supply of the Biren chips for now.

For TSMC to continue producing BR100 or BR104 chips, Biren must now prove that their chips do not offer “peak performance and chip-to-chip I/O performance equal to or greater than thresholds that are roughly equivalent to the [NVIDIA] A100“, or get an export licence from the US Department of Commerce.

And believe it or not – it was Biren Technology that created this mess for itself!

 

How Biren Screwed Up Its Own BR100 AI Chips

Biren, which is one of China’s most promising semiconductor design firms, earlier claimed that its AI chips that were being produced by TSMC are not covered by the latest US export restrictions.

However, its own website touts that the BR100 family of chips offers “world-class performance“, and has “improved by more than 3X” compared to mainstream rivals.

On top of that, Biren actually released a press statement on September 9, 2022, declaring that the slower BR104 was proven by the MLPerf to beat the NVIDIA A100!

Releasing such a statement less than 2 weeks after the US government ordered both AMD and NVIDIA to stop exporting their MI250 and A100 and faster AI chips to China is either amazing chutzpah, or a combination of hubris and idiocy.

Either way, the US government took notice, and TSMC came under pressure to comply with American export restrictions. Awesome PR, but stupid move, Biren…

Take a look at the benchmark results that Biren itself released into public domain, showing that the slower BR104 chip was between 27% and 58% faster than the NVIDIA A100.

With such results, the BR104 would certainly fall under the latest US tech export restrictions. No wonder TSMC quickly stopped making and supplying Biren BR100 series chips.

As powerful as the BR100 and BR104 GPGPU chips may be, they are now dead in the water as TSMC will not manufacture them anymore, and Biren Technology has no plausible alternatives for 7nm fabrication.

Read more : US Targets Chinese Military With New Chip Export Ban!

 

Biren BR100 AI Chips That TSMC Stopped Producing

The Biren BR100 and slower BR104 are General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) chips, which are targeted at artificial intelligence applications.

They are both fabricated on the TSMC 7nm process technology, and use chipset and 2.5D Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate (CoWoS) packaging technologies to achieve high yield, and high performance.

The Biren BR100 family of GPGPU chips supports up to eight independent virtual instances (SVI) – each physically isolated with their own hardware resources, for improved security.

Their chips are designed with a proprietary Blink high-speed GPU interconnect bus offering bandwidth of up to 448 GB/s, with the ability to connect up to 8 cards in a single node, using state-of-the-art PCI Express 5.0.

Biren Technology offers two BR100-based products – the Bili 100P OCP Accelerator Module (OAM), and the Bill 104P PCI Express accelerator card.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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US Targets Chinese Military With New Chip Export Ban!

The US government just imposed sweeping chip and chipmaking export restrictions that target Chinese military capabilities!

 

US Targets Chinese Military With New Chip Export Ban!

On Friday, October 7, 2022, the US government announced new regulations on computer chips and chipmaking technologies designed to target Chinese military capabilities.

The stated goal of these new export restrictions is to “block the People’s Liberation Army and China’s domestic surveillance apparatus from gaining access to advanced computing capabilities that require the use of advanced semiconductors.

According to US officials, these rules target not only the sale and export of chips, but also the tools and software that might help the Chinese military in any way, including aiding the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Unlike earlier rules that target specific Chinese companies (like HUAWEI), the new rules have far greater reach, covering everything from chips made by AMD and NVIDIA, to complex and expensive hardware and software used to design and manufacture semiconductor chips.

These rules, some of which go into effect immediately, build on existing restrictions that were earlier applied to top chip toolmaking companies in the US, like KLA Corporation, Lam Research Corporation, and Applied Material Incorporated.

It’s not just advanced chips used for AI computing and national security or military applications that are being targeted.

The new rules are more generic, and forbid US companies from selling technologies to indigenous Chinese companies that will enable the production of:

  • DRAM chips at 18 nm or below,
  • NAND flash chips at 128 layers or above, and
  • logic chips at 14 nm or below.

Even foreign companies operating China are somewhat affected. US companies will need to obtain a license to export more advanced equipment to them.

But in a concession to South Korea, the US government will spare SK Hynix and Samsung from these measures. US companies will be able to continue supplying their production facilities in China.

Many of the rules aim to block foreign companies from selling advanced chips or chipmaking technologies and tools to China. However, the US government will need to “lean” on those countries to introduce similar measures.

Most advanced chips are manufactured in South Korea and Taiwan. If they continue to export to China, they will allow China to bypass US restrictions.

Read more : Biden To Hit China With More Chip Restrictions!

 

Chinese Government Criticised US Chip Export Ban

On Saturday, the Chinese government criticised the new US chip export ban, calling it a violation of International economic and trade rules that will “isolate and backfire” on the US.

Out of the need to maintain its sci-tech hegemony, the U.S. abuses export control measures to maliciously block and suppress Chinese companies.

It will not only damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, but also affect American companies’ interest.

– Mao Ning, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Despite Mao’s assertions that US actions will not stop China’s progress, the new wide-ranging chip and chipmaking export ban will undoubtedly be detrimental to the Chinese semiconductor industry, and set back its attempts at indigenous production by many years.

On the other hand, this export ban will spur China to redouble its efforts to develop its own chipmaking capabilities, and possibly “strike back” by restricting exports of rare earths to US companies.

Read more : Did China Make 7nm Chips In Spite Of US Sanctions?!

 

US Chip Export Rules Affecting Chinese Companies Summarised

Here is a summary of the new restrictions that take effect on Friday (October 7, 2022):

  • Tools that are capable of producing logic chips made using fin field-effect transistors (FinFET) are blocked from sale to China.
  • Tools capable of fabricating NAND flash storage chips with 128-layer technology or greater, and DRAM based on 18-nanometer half-pitch or less technology are blocked from sale to China.
  • Servicing and maintenance of restricted tools are also banned, which would prevent keeping advanced equipment in good enough shape to keep producing quality chips at high volume.
  • US citizens currently servicing or supporting tools on the restricted list must halt their activities by Wednesday, October 12.
  • Export of items that China can use to make its own chip manufacturing tools, such as a photolithography light source and other specialised components are also blocked from sale to China.

The US Commerce Department also enacted these additional measures on Friday:

  • 31 Chinese entities were added to the Unverified List, which consists of companies that the US government believes could divert technology that they purchase to restricted entities.
  • The Commerce Department expanded the scope of controls for the 28 Chinese firms already on the US Entity List, including presumptively denying any licenses because of the risk they will divert technology to the Chinese military.

Then two weeks later, these restrictions will take effect on Friday, October 21, 2022:

  • Using a new foreign direct product rule, the U.S. will block any chips that used in advanced computing and artificial intelligence applications.
  • The foreign direct product rule can block chips made by non-US companies — including Chinese chip designers — if they use American technology or software.
  • TSMC may be forced by this new rule to halt production on advanced AI or supercomputer chips designed by Chinese firms that are fabricated in Taiwan, unless it gets an exemption.
  • A new foreign direct product rule will apply to components and chips destined for supercomputers in China.

 

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He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Biden To Hit China With More Chip Restrictions!

The Biden Administration is planning to hit China with more restrictions on chip supplies, as well as chipmaking technology!

 

Biden To Hit China With More Chip Restrictions!

Sources familiar with the matter just revealed to Channel News Asia that the Biden Administration plans to hit China with more more restrictions on chip supplies, as well as chipmaking technology.

In September 2022, the US Commerce Department intends to publish new regulations for the semiconductor industry, based on :

  • restrictions that earlier applied only to KLA Corporation, Lam Research Corporation, and Applied Material Incorporated.
  • restrictions that were recently enforced on AMD and NVIDIA

The first three US companies received letters from the US Commerce Department, explicitly forbidding them from exporting chipmaking equipment to Chinese factories that produce sub-14 nanometer semiconductors without special export licences.

AMD and NVIDIA, on the other hand, received letters informing them that they were now banned from selling high-performance AI chips to China (as well as Russia) without special export licences.

On top of those restrictions, the US Commerce Department will likely impose additional chip restrictions on China.

The US Chamber of Commerce claims last week that the Commerce Department plans to add more Chinese supercomputing entities to a trade blacklist.

Read more : AMD, NVIDIA Banned From Selling AI Chips To China!

 

Why Biden Is Introducing More Chip Restrictions On China

The US Commerce Department issued those 5 companies the so-called “is informed” letters to quickly impose restrictions without going through the lengthy rule-writing process, but they would only apply to companies that receive them.

That leaves open the possibility for other companies to bypass those restrictions, or offer comparable chips or technologies to the Chinese as an alternative.

For example, NVIDIA is banned from selling their A100 artificial intelligence chips to Chinese companies. However, China can still purchase servers containing NVIDIA A100 chips from Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Super Micro Computer.

Hence, the new regulations serve to codify those restrictions and apply them across the board, preventing those chips and technologies from “leaking” to China.

As a general rule, we look to codify any restrictions that are in is-informed letters with a regulatory change.
– Senior US Commerce Department official

The Biden Administration has also reached out to US allies to lobby them into enacting similar restrictions, to prevent China from obtaining critical chips and technologies through other sources.

This move comes after the US Congress voted to pass the historic CHIPS and Science Act, which not only provides semiconductor companies with billions of dollars of funding, but also blocks them from building advanced chip fabs in China.

Read more : Did China Make 7nm Chips In Spite Of US Sanctions?!

The Biden Administration appears to be more cognisant than the Trump Administration of the risks of permitting China continued access to advanced semiconductors and chipmaking technologies.

The Chinese government has become very belligerent and aggressive in the South China Sea, and cutting access to advanced chips will reduce its ability to build more advanced missiles like the Dong-Feng 21 (DF-21) and the YJ-12.

China is also a source of chips that Russia desperately needs to build its own advanced missiles, so these rules would also prevent that possibility.

By blocking China’s access to advanced chips, the hope is that it will preclude hostilities from breaking out in Asia, and force an earlier and better conclusion of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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