U.S. Extends Export Restrictions on Nvidia and AMD AI Chips to Middle East

In a move signaling heightened export restrictions, the United States has expanded the limitations on the export of advanced artificial intelligence chips produced by Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) beyond China, now including several countries in the Middle East.
Generative AI chips NVIDIANvidia and AMD, prominent players in the tech industry, have confirmed the development, but both companies downplayed the immediate impact on their revenues, Reuters news report said.

Nvidia’s regulatory filing this week revealed that the export constraints would affect its A100 and H100 chips, specifically designed to accelerate machine-learning tasks. Despite these restrictions, Nvidia stated that there wouldn’t be an “immediate material impact” on its financial results. Similarly, a source familiar with the matter informed Reuters that AMD has received a letter outlining comparable limitations. However, AMD echoed Nvidia’s sentiment, asserting that the move wouldn’t significantly affect its revenue.

The U.S. government typically imposes export controls for national security reasons. Last year, a similar action targeted China’s technological capabilities, but the motivation behind extending these controls to the Middle East remains unclear.

Nvidia, in a separate statement, expressed that the new licensing requirement would not substantially affect its revenue and indicated cooperation with U.S. authorities to address the situation. The U.S. Commerce Department, responsible for administering new export licensing requirements, has not yet responded to requests for comments on the matter.

In the filing, Nvidia did not specify which countries in the Middle East would be affected. The company’s revenues primarily stem from the United States, China, and Taiwan, with a minor proportion coming from other countries. Notably, Nvidia does not provide revenue breakdowns for the Middle East.

The export restrictions come amid a backdrop of geopolitical tensions, including concerns about the status of Taiwan, a major hub for chip manufacturing. The Biden administration has been working to expand export controls, with a particular focus on semiconductor chips used for technological and military purposes.

The extended export restrictions on AI chips from Nvidia and AMD could have significant implications. Chinese entities that heavily rely on these chips for advanced computing tasks, including image recognition and natural language processing, may face challenges in their operations. These capabilities have both consumer and military applications, from enhancing smartphones’ features to enabling military intelligence gathering through satellite imagery analysis and digital communication filtering.