US expands export controls on Nvidia and AMD AI chips to the Middle East

These restrictions limit the sales and exports of high-performing AI processors to the Middle East.

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The United States has extended export limitations on AI chips from Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to certain countries in the Middle East. For both leading US manufacturers, the restrictions apply to advanced AI chips designed to speed up machine-learning tasks, including NVIDIA’s A100, H100, and AMD’s MI250. Neither the US Department of Commerce nor the chip makers disclosed which countries in the Middle East would be affected by the measures.

Why does it matter?

The US government usually exerts export controls for national security reasons. The nature of the risks posed by exports of AI chips to the Middle East is still unclear. The AI chips are used in image and speech recognition applications used in smartphones and also for military purposes.
The decision comes amid Washington’s crackdown on Beijing’s technological capabilities. Last year, as tensions flared over Taiwan, a global chip manufacturing powerhouse, the Biden administration moved swiftly to cut off China from advanced semiconductor chips produced anywhere with US components, software, and equipment to slow down their technological and military progress. China retaliated by severely restricting Intel and Micron operations and tightly curbing the export of gallium and germanium, two metals used in semiconductors. The latest move shows the US’s intention to carefully control the dissemination of crucial, dual-use, advanced AI technology.