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Chipzilla's China chip compromise

by on18 April 2024

Tech Titan tweaks AI tech to toe trade line

Intel is making a strategic move by developing two AI chips specifically for the Chinese market.

 This decision is a direct response to tightening US export controls and sanctions, which has significantly impacted China's development of AI chips.

The chips, dubbed HL-328 and HL-388, are slated for release in June and September, as revealed by a white paper on Intel's website dated 12 April.

In a competitive move, Nvidia, a key competitor of Intel, is also preparing to launch three China-specific chips. This strategic decision follows the United States' tightening of regulations, which has limited the capabilities of AI chips for China, further intensifying the rivalry between the two tech giants.

Intel's China-adapted AI chips take a leaf out of the company's freshest Gaudi 3 product series, which launched on 9 April. This series boasts comparable hardware traits such as on-chip memory, high-bandwidth memory, and interface standards. Yet, the chips' performance will be notably curtailed to stay within the bounds of export control laws.

In essence, the HL-328 and HL-388 chips are akin to Intel's existing lineup, sporting 128GB of HBM2e VRAM with a hefty 3.7TB/s bandwidth, a 96MB cache, a PCIe 5.0 x16 interface, and standard decoding capabilities. The primary distinction lies in their thermal design power (TDP), pegged at 450 watts for the OAM and PCIe card variants. This marks a significant drop from the other models in the series: the non-China PCIe HL-338 flaunts a TDP of 600 watts, while the OAM form-factor HL-325L and HL-335 are rated at 900 watts. The China-specific Gaudi 3 models' lower TDP likely explains the absence of a liquid-cooled option.

Nvidia is also on the cusp of dispatching one of its China-specific chips, the H20, in modest amounts in the initial quarter of 2024, with expectations of a ramp-up in volume from the second quarter, as per a January report by Reuters.

Last modified on 18 April 2024
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