U.S. delays Nvidia, AMD AI GPU export licenses to Middle East

Circuits making the shape of a brain.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Amid a national security review, the U.S. government has delayed granting export licenses to designers of advanced processors for AI workloads, such as AMD and Nvidia, for shipments to the Middle East. The U.S. government is concerned that GPUs for AI and HPC workloads could be resold to China; accessed by Chinese entities in the cloud to train large language models; or used to develop military equipment. 

For obvious reasons, this greatly affects businesses of AMD, Nvidia, and other developers of similar hardware, reports Bloomberg.

In October, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed new export rules for shipments of high-performance AI and HPC processors to other countries. The U.S. government now demands companies like AMD and Nvidia obtain an export license when they ship reasonably advanced processors to China, Macau, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, and some other countries, including those from the so-called Group D:5 [PDF]. Recently, license applications from Nvidia, AMD, Intel, and Cerebras Systems have been delayed or left unanswered.

The U.S. government's strategy includes developing a comprehensive plan for the deployment of advanced chips overseas. This plan involves ensuring proper management and security of facilities used to train AI models. While companies getting processors from AMD, Cerebras, Intel, and Nvidia to equip their datacenters will not resell valuable hardware to Chinese entities (as this contradicts their business model), there are concerns about Chinese companies accessing these processors through Middle Eastern datacenters to train their AI models or even develop military capability.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are aiming to diversify their economies from oil by becoming leaders in AI. Both countries view U.S.-based companies like Cerebras and Nvidia as crucial partners in this effort. Additionally, Microsoft invested $1.5 billion in the Abu Dhabi-based AI firm G42.

Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have shown willingness to keep Chinese supply chains separate or divest from Chinese technology entirely. Yet, Saudi Arabia has partnered with China's Lenovo to establish an R&D center in Riyadh.

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. 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.

  • Vanderlindemedia
    Is the goverment compensating any of these company's in any way with such a declaration?
  • Notton
    Vanderlindemedia said:
    Is the goverment compensating any of these company's in any way with such a declaration?
    That is such a bizarre question...
    The government doesn't have to do any compensation because they write the laws, grant business licenses, and wield all of the power.
    The most a company can do is sue if they feel if the delay was unjust. Then the checks and balances branch of the government, the judicial branch, can do a review. Some money can be paid out if the plaintiffs win.

    Take for example road repairs. The government doesn't have to pay you anything if you are inconvenienced by road closures. However, they may payout monetary compensation if you or your vehicle were damaged from neglect. Usually those are potholes that were previously reported, but no one went out to repair.
  • williamcll
    Vanderlindemedia said:
    Is the goverment compensating any of these company's in any way with such a declaration?
    No, the only value the middle east has in the eyes of the government is oil and the development of anything else is a threat to the free world (or at least in Israel)