The most powerful of the three China-focused chips, the H20 chip, was developed by Nvidia to meet the restrictions announced in October. Nvidia plans to begin mass production in the second quarter of 2024 of an AI chip designed for China to comply with US export regulations. This was announced by two sources familiar with the matter on Monday.
The H20 chip was originally slated for launch last November, but that plan was delayed. Sources told Reuters at the time that the delay was due to problems the server manufacturers were having integrating the chip. One of the sources said that the initial production volume will be limited and that Nvidia will primarily fulfill orders for larger customers.
Both sources wished to remain anonymous as the information was confidential. Nvidia declined to comment. Reuters earlier reported, citing sources, that Chinese companies are reluctant to buy the downgraded H20 and are testing domestic alternatives because they fear the US could tighten restrictions again.
Last year, search engine leader Baidu ordered AI chips from Huawei Technologies in a shift away from Nvidia, Reuters reported. In addition to the H20, Nvidia plans two other chips that comply with the new restrictions - the L20 and the L2. Nvidia has yet to announce the sale of any of the three. In late December, they launched a modified version of an advanced gaming chip designed to comply with the new rules. Nvidia is banking on the chips to maintain its market share in the country after tighter US export restrictions prevented it from shipping products including its high-end A800 and H800 AI chips.
The A800 and H800 were themselves introduced as alternatives for Chinese customers in November 2022, about a month after the US first restricted exports of advanced microchips and equipment to China. The H20, L20 and L2 include most of Nvidia's latest features for AI work, but with reduced computing power to comply with the new rules, according to SemiAnalysis' analysis of the chips' specifications."