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US bans 3nm processing technique exports on security grounds

by on16 August 2022

China targeted

The United States is formally banning the export of four technologies tied to semiconductor manufacturing, calling the protection of the items "vital to national security." 

The US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and enacted today, the rule will ban the export of two ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor materials, as well as some types of electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) technology and pressure gain combustion (PGC) technology.

The BIS said that the semiconductor materials gallium oxide and diamond will be subject to renewed export controls because they can operate under more extreme temperature and voltage conditions.

The Bureau said that capability makes the materials more useful in weapons. ECAD software, which aids design for a wide range of circuits, comes in specialized forms that supports gate-all-around field effect transistors (GAAFETs), which are used to scale semiconductors to 3 nanometers and below.

PGC technology also has "extensive potential" for ground and aerospace uses, the BIS said.

All four items are being classified under Section 1758 of the Export Control Reform Act, which covers the production of advanced semiconductors and gas turbine engines.

Those types of technology are also covered by the Wassenaar Arrangement, made in 2013 between the US and 41 other countries, which functions as a broader arms control treaty.

"We are protecting the four technologies identified in today's rule from nefarious end use by applying controls through a multilateral regime," Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea D Rozman Kendler said in a statement.

"This rule demonstrates our continued commitment to imposing export controls together with our international partners."

The reason for the addition of the four forms of technology to export controls is a change made in May to how the BIS characterizes emerging and foundational technologies. Under the change, such tech was reclassified to be covered by Section 1758.

The BIS statement made no mention of the countries, but it is pretty obvious it is talking about China.  It will not have any effect in the short term as no one in China has figured out how to design chips as advanced as those targeted by the ban.


Last modified on 16 August 2022
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