Arm processor technology caught up in US chip war with China • The Register

Chinese companies continue to be hit by US-led export controls on advanced chip technology, with e-commerce giant Alibaba reportedly being denied access to Arm’s Neoverse V-series processor designs.

Alibaba, which is said to be China’s answer to Amazon, will reportedly not have access to the Neoverse V-series core designs as Arm believes the US and UK would not authorize the export of this technology to China.

Alibaba already uses Arm-based chips in servers powering its Alibaba Cloud, which are manufactured for it by T-Head Semiconductor, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company.

However, the Financial Times reports that Arm, citing unnamed sources, has concluded that the US and UK governments would not approve its latest Neoverse V-series cores for licensing because the performance would be considered excessive.

This is likely a reference to the recently introduced US export controls trying to bar China’s access to high-performance computer chips, which has also forced companies like Nvidia to limit the products they are allowed to sell into China.

We have asked Arm to confirm these reports and clarify which of its products are affected by the export controls. However, Arm did not directly answer our questions. Instead, it sent a statement:

Alibaba was not immediately available to respond.

The Chinese company previously announced plans to power 20 percent of its operations with its home-built ARM-based CPUs by 2025. But earlier this month, The registry reported that Beijing is contracting companies like Alibaba to develop home-grown RISC-V chips to reduce dependence on foreign technology.

According to FT, the export controls include the Neoverse V2, which was announced back in September and is said to be included in Nvidia’s high-performance Grace processor, as well as the older Neoverse V1 technology included in Amazon’s Graviton3 data center chip.

It was also reported that the US Department of Commerce will add over 30 Chinese companies to its corporate list, which would prevent them from buying technology from US suppliers unless they can obtain a special export license that gives them express permission granted.

Chipmaker Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC) is said to be among those to be added to the list, which could happen as early as this week.

YMTC was among companies added to the US Commerce Department’s Unverified List in October, when Washington first announced its tough new export controls. Companies on the Entity List are subject to stricter restrictions than those on the Unverified List.

These latest moves come after Beijing filed a complaint at the WTO this week against US-led export controls, claiming they are anti-competitive and threaten global supply chains.

The Dutch ASML strikes back

Meanwhile, from outside the US, there is some backlash against export controls. ASML CEO Peter Wennink is said to have said his company had already wasted enough sales opportunities.

ASML, a leading maker of photolithography machines, has already been blocked from selling newer devices to China that use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths in the chip-making process.

However, in an interview with Dutch publication NRC, Wennink said that chip technology for purely military applications is often 10 to 15 years old and the equipment to make such chips can still be sold to China.

The most advanced chips for AI may require EUV, but even those are still sold to China, Wennink claimed. “American chipmakers have no problem with China as a customer,” he said.

The registry Arm asked if Arm China had access to Neoverse’s intellectual property and could possibly license it to companies like Alibaba. We will update when we get a reply. ® Arm processor technology caught up in US chip war with China • The Register

Rick Schindler

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