Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

AMD Exploring New AI Chip to Comply With US Controls, KLA Continues DRAM Shipments

Two U.S. semiconductor companies said they still see opportunities to sell into the Chinese market despite sweeping export controls announced by the U.S. in October (see 2210070049) and potentially more restrictions coming soon.

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AMD is exploring a new artificial intelligence chip that it would specifically sell to Chinese customers and that would comply with U.S. export licensing requirements, CEO Lisa Su said during an Aug. 1 investor call. She called China a “very important market for us,” and “our plan is to of course be fully compliant with U.S. export controls.

“But we do believe there's an opportunity to develop products for our customer set in China that is looking for AI solutions,” Su said. “We’ll continue to work in that direction.”

Lu’s comments came after U.S. chipmaker Nvidia in November unveiled its A800 chip, which was designed to allow the company to sell to China while complying with the export control threshold outlined in the Commerce Department’s October interim final rule (see 2211080005). But Commerce is reportedly considering expanding the controls to cover a broader set of chips, including the A800, which Nvidia said could deal permanent damage to American chip industry sales in China (see 2306290048).

Speaking on an investor call last week, Rick Wallace, CEO of American semiconductor company KLA, declined to “speculate what the government will do or not do” when it updates its October rule, a move that Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo last month said has “no timetable” (see 2307260071). Wallace last week said KLA has “ongoing conversations with" Commerce and has “been supportive of their efforts to try to figure out how to cut off the very leading edge.”

But he also said KLA would be affected if Commerce restricts a broader range of legacy chips. “Given that most of the business we have in China is legacy, that would obviously impact” us, Wallace said.

Wallace’s comments came several months after KLA said it “received clarification” from the U.S. government on matters surrounding chip export controls and planned to resume some shipments to China that it had initially ruled out (see 2304280030). Wallace offered more details during the investor call, saying the company has been able to continue certain China sales involving certain DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) chips.

KLA had “some shipments that we weren't expecting to make in the quarter related to one of our Chinese DRAM customers,” he said. “And the clarifications from the export rules enabled us to ship some additional equipment there.”