The United States on Friday added five Chinese companies to a blacklist, limiting their access to US technology. The "list of entities" identifies entities for which there is a reasonable basis to believe, based on specific and explainable facts, that are involved, involved or have a significant risk of being or participating in activities contrary to US foreign national security policy ".
The companies in question are: Sugon, Higon, Chengdu Haiguang Integrated Circuit, Chengdu Haiguang Microelectronics Technology and Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computer Technology. One of them, Higon (also spelled Hygon), is a semiconductor joint venture between AMD and THATIC, in charge of selling x86 processors for the Chinese server market. THATIC itself consists of two separate joint ventures: Chengdu Haiguang microelectronics technology and Chengdu Haiguang integrated circuit design. If you look at the list above, these two companies are included.
In short, the US government seems to have just banned THATIC, the two companies that formed it, and the non-factory semiconductor company to design and sell x86 processors in China. According to the government's information document, all of these companies are owned in part by Sugon, which seems to be the main target company. The document of the Ministry of Commerce states It was decided that Sugon and the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computer Technology were involved in activities:
United States … Sugon, the Institute of Computer Technology Wuxi Jiangnan and the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) are the three main Chinese entities in the development of exascale high performance computing . Sugon has publicly acknowledged a variety of military end-uses and end-users of his high-performance computers.
This would seem to be a serious problem for AMD's efforts to expand its operations in China as part of the THATIC joint venture. We contacted AMD and received the following statement:
We are currently evaluating the addition of five new entities to the list of entities by the Bureau of Industry and Security. AMD will comply with the regulations governing this list, just as we have complied with US laws to date. We are reviewing the order details to determine the next steps for our joint ventures with THATIC in China.
Reports of earlier this month stated that AMD did not license Zen Architecture 2 to THATIC. The future involvement of AMD, its revenue forecast and exposure to it are currently not clear.
The move comes as President Trump prepares to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in China next week and discusses how export laws can be used to radically change the competitive landscape. These determinations will change the balance of power between AMD and Intel in China, as well as the market available for Semiconductor in this nation the NYT reports that the United States is considering adding Hikvision to the list. Sugon is a leading exascale computer manufacturer in China, with 10 of the fastest Chinese supercomputers according to the TOP500. Sugon is a much smaller company than Huawei, but these specific lists will continue to impact the semiconductor industry given their exposure to the HPC market – a critical area in which AMD hopes to gain market share.
There was a time when computer capabilities were considered a national resource of the United States, and strict restrictions were imposed on the export of computer technologies. As Steve Jobs has already said: in 1999"The Power Mac G4 is so fast that it is classified as a supercomputer by the US government, and we are prohibited from exporting to 50 countries around the world." These restrictions have been considerably relaxed over the years. following, but some steps have been taken to tighten them since then. In 2015, for example, the Obama administration banned Intel, Nvidia and AMD from selling chips to the Chinese government. The Trump Administration's decision to further tighten the rules and lock down some subsidiaries is a welcome expansion of these restrictions, but not without precedent.