The Biden administration plans to broaden curbs on US exports of semiconductors used for artificial intelligence to China and chipmaking tools, Reuters reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. This comes after the US government recently restricted exports of Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s artificial intelligence chips to the country.
The Commerce Department is set to publish new export regulations outlined in letters earlier this year to three US companies — KLA Corp, Lam Research Corp, and Applied Materials Inc, the people said.
The letters prohibited the three companies from exporting chipmaking equipment to Chinese companies that manufacture advanced chips with sub-14 nanometer processes unless they obtained a license from the Commerce Department.
According to Reuters, the new rules would also codify restrictions imposed on Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. There is a possibility for export license requirements for products that contain the targeted chips.
“Turning the letters into rules would broaden their reach and could subject other US companies producing similar technology to the restrictions,” Reuters said. This could mean Intel Corp and startups like Cerebras Systems may be subjected to export restrictions.
A top Commerce official wouldn’t comment on the upcoming action, though they offered this statement: “As a general rule, we look to codify any restrictions that are in is-informed letters with a regulatory change.”
A spokesperson for the Commerce Department also refused to comment on next month’s announcement. They said the US government is “taking a comprehensive approach to implementing additional actions…to protect US national security and foreign policy interests” by inhibiting China from acquiring advanced US chips for military modernization efforts.
Jim Lewis, a technology expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the planned action to broaden chip export restrictions is a “choke-off strategy” against China.
“They can’t make this stuff; they can’t make the manufacturing equipment,” Lewis said.
In July, the Biden administration first announced possible actions of prohibiting advanced chips with sub-14 nanometer processes and chipmaking machines to China.
The upcoming restrictive policy is meant to slow China’s ascension to dominating the world’s chip industry while the US begins to rebuild its chip assembly industry via the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.