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U.S. Export Rules May Cost Nvidia $400 Million, Prevent Completion of H100 Development (Updated)

Nvidia Hopper H100 die shot
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Update 09/01/2022 5:02 pm PT

Nvidia has disclosed in a filing with the SEC that the U.S. government has authorized it to keep developing its H100 compute GPU and systems on its base in China. Also, the U.S. government allowed Nvidia to use its Hong Kong facility for its A100 and H100 order fulfillment and logistics through September 1, 2023. Finally, the company can continue the exports required to support A100 customers in the U.S. through March 1, 2023.

Authorizations of the U.S. Department of Commerce do not allow Nvidia to sell its A100, A100X, and H100 compute GPUs to customers in China without an export license. However, they enable Nvidia to ship samples of H100 to China to keep developing its H100 compute GPU and systems powered by this chip. Furthermore, Nvidia will be able to keep using its Hong Kong facility for a year to fulfill orders on its A100 and H100 compute GPUs, as well as DGX and HGX machines featuring these chips for a year. Likewise, it will be able to export A100 GPUs and parts to China (e.g., for repairs) in a bid to support customers in the U.S. through March 1, 2023.

Essentially, the U.S. government allowed Nvidia to keep H100-based projects in China and use Chinese facilities in a business-as-usual manner for 7 – 12 months. This will give Nvidia time to find new manufacturing and/or repair partners and will not disrupt its ongoing operations, which is good news for the company and its clients outside of China. Yet, before selling high-performance compute GPUs to customers in China, Nvidia will have to obtain an export license, which might be granted or denied.

The filing with the SEC reads as follows:

“The U.S. government has authorized exports, reexports, and in-country transfers needed to continue NVIDIA Corporation’s, or the Company’s, development of H100 integrated circuits after the Company filed its Current Report on Form 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 31, 2022. The authorization also allows the Company to perform exports needed to provide support for U.S. customers of A100 through March 1, 2023. Additionally, the U.S. government authorized A100 and H100 order fulfillment and logistics through the Company’s Hong Kong facility through September 1, 2023.”

Original Article

Nvidia said late on Thursday that the recently announced U.S. export rules require the company to obtain an export license to sell high-performance graphics processors to China. On the one hand, these new policies might already cost the company some $400 million in sales this quarter. On the other hand, this may promptly prevent the completion of H100 development, which will further affect sales of the company’s data center products.

“On August 26, 2022, the U.S. government, or USG, informed Nvidia that the USG has imposed a new license requirement, effective immediately, for any future export to China (including Hong Kong) and Russia of the Company’s A100 and forthcoming H100 integrated circuits,” a statement (opens in new tab) by Nvidia reads.

In a bid to prevent Nvidia’s high-performance GPUs from being used by adversary military, the U.S. government now requires Nvidia to get an export license to sell any existing or future GPU achieving ‘both peak performance and chip-to-chip I/O performance […] that are roughly equivalent to the A100’ as well as systems on their base to China or Russia.

An export license is needed to ship actual products to clients for revenue and product samples to partners to support product development. Consequently, Nvidia may miss $400 million in data center sales expected from China in Q3 FY2023 earlier this quarter if appropriate licenses are not granted in time. Nvidia’s data center revenue totaled $3.806 billion last quarter, including compute GPUs and various solutions from Mellanox, so $400 million is a sizable sum for the company.

Furthermore, since Nvidia has numerous manufacturing partners in China, its inability to ship them samples may prevent it from finishing the development of its Hopper H100-based products (and possibly Grace Hopper-based products, too) on time, which will affect its data center revenue in Q4 FY2023 (which ends in late January 2023).

“The new license requirement may impact the Company’s ability to complete its development of H100 in a timely manner or support existing customers of A100 and may require the company to transition certain operations out of China,” the company said. “The company is engaged with the USG and is seeking exemptions for the company’s internal development and support activities.”

Nvidia’s A100 is the company’s current-generation datacenter GPU, introduced in mid-2020. Nvidia’s A100X and H100 offer higher performance than A100, so they automatically require Nvidia to get a license. Meanwhile, any cut-down version of Hopper H100 will likely still outpace A100 (unless Nvidia deliberately lowers their performance and makes them less competitive), so Nvidia will still be unable to sell them to Chinese clients without an export license. Meanwhile, Nvidia already does not sell products to Russia.

One of the ways for Nvidia to get around export requirements for data center GPUs is to sell its A30 products instead of A100 products to customers in China and Hong Kong. Of course, the A30 offers considerably lower performance than A100 and does not offer similar scalability. Still, if someone needs an Nvidia GPU for artificial intelligence, analytics, or high-performance computing, A30 is an option.

“In addition, the company is engaging with customers in China and is seeking to satisfy their planned or future purchases of the company’s data center products with products not subject to the new license requirement,” Nvidia said. “The company’s outlook for its third fiscal quarter provided on August 24, 2022 included approximately $400 million in potential sales to China which may be subject to the new license requirement if customers do not want to purchase the company’s alternative product offerings or if the USG does not grant licenses in a timely manner or denies licenses to significant customers.”

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.

  • plateLunch
    Whoa. Nvidia was counting on data center sales to compensate for declines in the GPU business. If their data center sales get capped, they are in big trouble. Should have shorted more Nvidia.

    I wonder how the USG keeps chips like the A100 and H100 from "leaking" through third parties to China. Better watch out for that new datacenter opening up in Angola!
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Given the tense political climate around Taiwan, I'm sure the US does not want China to have access to proper AI hardware.

    That cost is the cost of "patriotism", no? :D

    Regards.
    Reply
  • Support_Lemon
    “The new license requirement may impact the Company’s ability to complete its development of H100 in a timely manner or support existing customers of A100 and may require the company to transition certain operations out of China,”It does affect the A100
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Support_Lemon said:
    “The new license requirement may impact the Company’s ability to complete its development of H100 in a timely manner or support existing customers of A100 and may require the company to transition certain operations out of China,”It does affect the A100
    Not sure if that's a reply to me, but the original version of the article sounded like only the A100X would be affected. It has since been updated.

    That said, it's clear that the A100 hasn't previously been affected, so my points stand.
    Reply
  • ex_bubblehead
    Since people can't seem to keep politics out of the discussion this thread is now closed.
    Reply