US microchip export controls imposed last year to freeze China’s development of supercomputers used to develop nuclear weapons and artificial-intelligence systems like ChatGPT are having only minimal effects on China’s tech sector, reports Reuters. The rules restricted shipments of Nvidia Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc chips that have become the global technology industry’s standard for developing chatbots and other AI systems.
But Nvidia has created variants of its chips for the Chinese market that are slowed down to meet US rules. Industry experts told Reuters the newest one—the Nvidia H800, announced in March—will likely take 10% to 30% longer to carry out some AI tasks and could double some costs compared with Nvidia’s fastest US chips.
Even the slowed Nvidia chips represent an improvement for Chinese firms. Tencent Holdings, one of China’s largest tech companies, in April estimated that systems using Nvidia’s H800 will cut the time it takes to train its largest AI system by more than half, from 11 days to four days.