CEO Pat Gelsinger warns that overly strict chip export rules risk spurring Chinese advances.

Intel wants to supply as many of its chips to China as possible, CEO Pat Gelsinger said Tuesday, warning that overly strict U.S. export controls would only encourage Asia’s top economy to develop its own semiconductors.

“We continue to export all of our products to China and continue to make products like Gaudi available,” Gelsinger said at a press conference at the Computex technology fair in Taipei on Tuesday. Gaudi chips are Intel graphics processing units (GPUs) used for artificial intelligence computing.

Washington has progressively tightened its export controls on shipments of advanced chips and chipmaking tools to China in response to alleged national security threats and to control Beijing’s technological ambitions. The controls affect not only Intel, but also competitors AMD and Nvidia, the world’s most valuable chipmaker, which is blocked from shipping its powerful GPUs, including the H100 system, to China.

Gelsinger said Intel’s technological lead over Chinese rivals that don’t have access to the most advanced tools could give the U.S. chipmaker a competitive advantage in the local market.

Extreme ultraviolet lithography, or EUV, the most advanced chipmaking technology on the market, is not available in China, he said. “As a result, as we continue below 2 nanometers or beyond, there will be an attractiveness for Intel products in the Chinese market. And I believe that as a result, we will continue to have a good market opportunity.”

“Nanometers” refers to the distance between transistors on a chip. The lower the number, the more powerful the chip, but also the greater the challenges in its production.

Gelsinger added, however, that if the US cracks down too hard on China’s chip sector, there is a risk it could backfire.

“If that line is too restrictive, then China will have to build its own chips,” he said.

Washington’s increasingly strict export controls on advanced chips and chipmaking tools have resulted in a pattern of companies re-engineering popular products to slightly lower specifications in order to continue shipping them to China. US trade officials, however, said they would crack down on such strategies in the future.

However, there are signs that the US crackdown has already spurred advances in China’s domestic chip production capabilities. Huawei said the Ascend chip’s performance can match Nvidia’s offerings. The Chinese technology champion last year also unveiled the Mate 60 Pro smartphone using its in-house developed 7-nanometer chip.

The US revoked export licenses granted to Intel and Qualcomm to supply Huawei after the Chinese tech champion in April unveiled a laptop using Intel’s most advanced PC chips to date.

Via Nikkei Asia.


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