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China is a decade behind on chips

by on22 January 2024

Biden’s export bans worked, claims Gelsinger

Intel boss Pat [kicking] Gelsinger said that China is ten years behind the rest of the world regarding chip production, thanks to export controls from western countries.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum Gelsinger said that gap will remain.

The intel boss said the export rules that have been set put a limit in the 10-7nm range while the rest of the world was racing to go below 2nm, then 1.5nm.

"It's not like China is not going to keep trying, but this is a highly connected industry,” he said.

"All of those together, I think this is a 10-year gap, and I think it is a lasting 10-year gap with the export rules that have been set."

The Biden restrictions hit Chinese chip-making and development hard with a load of export bans since 2022 that stop the export of the best chips and chip design software, making equipment and US-made bits.

The bans also cover chip exports from any company that uses US chip tech, which has left China out in the cold regarding keeping up with the speed of chip development and making.

But while these bans seem to have worked well overall, it hasn't stopped dodgy attempts to get around them, with companies like Nvidia getting angry letters from the US government about changing their products to beat the export bans.

Chinese companies have been buying fancy US chip-making tools by using importers that say the equipment will be used on old production lines, with hardly any way of checking that the chip-making tools are not used to make more advanced chips.

Still, if the Intel boss's comments are to be trusted, it looks like these bans are doing their job, and while China keeps being left behind by these bans, chip-makers like Intel are moving ahead into the future, including making a massive new chip factory in Germany that Gelsinger says is going to be "the most advanced making in the world."

In chip development, it seems that staying still may be as bad as going backwards, and while Intel keeps its race to catch up to TMSC, it seems like it has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

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