NVIDIA has reportedly informed its Chinese customers that the release of the H20 AI chip is now delayed until the first quarter of 2024. Server manufacturers' hurdles in integrating the chip have necessitated the postponement to February or March from an originally planned November launch. The H20, NVIDIA's most advanced offering among three China-specific chips, is developed in response to stringent U.S. export controls.
Compliance with Export Restrictions
To remain competitive in the Chinese marketplace despite U.S. export regulations, NVIDIA designed the H20 as well as two other chips, the L20 and L2. These chips, collectively referred to as compliance chips, embody most of the latest NVIDIA AI innovations but with intentionally constrained computational capabilities to align with the restrictions.
The L20 series, which utilizes an AD102 GPU, offers 48GB and 24GB GDDR6 memory sizes, and maintains a maximum compute performance of 4800 TOPS through the PCIe interface. These specifications are crafted meticulously to stay within the performance limits set by the export laws.
Impact on Market Dynamics
NVIDIA's decision to develop chips tailored for the Chinese market is a strategic move to protect its market share after being barred from shipping its more advanced A800 and H800 products. However, the delay opens doors for competitors, with reports indicating that Baidu has turned to Huawei for AI chips.
AMD, an NVIDIA rival, has also taken steps to harness the Chinese market demand for AI solutions. The company's CEO, Lisa Su, unveiled plans for the MI300 accelerator, an AI chip designed specifically to cater to the Chinese market while abiding by the export regulations. Through the MI300, AMD is positioning itself as a contender to NVIDIA's dominion in the AI sector.
China's burgeoning need for AI technology and the limited availability of domestic alternatives has intensified the focus of U.S. firms on this market. NVIDIA and AMD are thus endeavoring to carve out substantial presence while observing the trade limits enacted by their home country. The advancement of AI technologies continues to be a focal point of technological competition on the global stage, with China representing a key battleground for market influence.