TSMC Reportedly Halts Shipments to China's GPU Specialist, Biren

Biren Technology
(Image credit: Biren Technology)

Bloomberg reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has suspended shipments of products it makes for China-based Biren, which designs processors aimed at artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) applications. TSMC's lawyers reportedly told the top contract chipmaker to suspend shipments while they are assessing the new limitations
Keep in mind also that this information comes from a reputable yet unofficial source. So take it with a grain of salt.

The U.S. has imposed pretty strict curbs and sanctions of China's supercomputer and AI industries. Specifically, new chips cannot enable machines with the performance of over 100 FP64 PetaFLOPS, or over 200 FP32 PetaFLOPS within 41,600 cubic feet (1178 cubic meters). Furthermore, the machine cannot have a throughput of more than 600 GB/s.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Biren BR104Biren BR100Nvidia A100Nvidia H100
Form-FactorFHFL CardOAM ModuleSXM4SXM5
Transistor Count?77 billion54.2 billion80 billion
FP32 TFLOPS12825619.560
TF32+ TFLOPS256512??
TF32 TFLOPS??156/312*500/1000*
FP16 TFLOPS??78120
FP16 TFLOPS Tensor??312/624*1000/2000*
BF16 TFLOPS512102439120
BF16 TFLOPS Tensor??312/624*1000/2000*
INT8 TFLOPS Tensor??624/1248*2000/4000*

Formally, Biren Technology (a fabless company with some Nvidia engineers behind it, which was valued at around $2.7 billion just last August) does not disclose all performance numbers of its compute processors. But the numbers it does disclose puts it on the map against Nvidia, Intel, and AMD. Just a reminder, Biren's GPUs cannot render graphics, so they aren't aiming to compete against the best graphics cards aimed at gaming. 

Based on performance numbers published by Biren, its compute GPUs can barely compete with Nvidia's in HPC applications that require 64-bit precision for floating-point operations per second (FLOPS). What is more important is that Biren's software for AI and HPC is reportedly years and generations behind that of Nvidia. So whether or not Biren is a competitor to Nvidia as of today, restrictions or not, is still unclear. 

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • escksu
    Let's see what's going to happen... Hopefully, this will not drive up prices.
  • bit_user
    escksu said:
    Let's see what's going to happen... Hopefully, this will not drive up prices.
    On the contrary, if you cut out Chinese customers from TSMC's order book, I'd expect it would reduce lead times and probably result in lower prices, for the rest of us. ...not that that's a legitimate reason to do it. Just a possible silver lining.