back to article Biden urged to completely cripple AI chips to China

Some American lawmakers aren't happy with US efforts to limit exports of AI chips to China, and have called on the Biden administration to enact tighter controls. In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, House Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), both of whom serve on a Select Committee …

  1. jgarbo

    US Genius

    "Yeah, Joe. Shoot yourself in the head, so the Commies can't steal your super intelligence." China's already way ahead the US, self-proclaimed 'Greatest Country in the Universe'.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    America proving yet again that adulthood is a myth.

  3. Lil Endian Silver badge

    Last Fall

    Biden should take more care, at his age a fall can be very serious!

    Okay, okay! I'm a little late to the party - I really need to make a conscious and concerted effort to accept that El Reg is now Left Pondian.

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Last Fall

      No, never accept it!

  4. tatatata

    I marvel at the idea to "cripple AI chips". Does the US export only chips with an AIQ (artificial IQ) below 60? Do we force the chips to use artificial marijuana?

    Are there any AI chips? no. There are NVIDIA chips that are used for AI. Sure, NVIDIA and INTEL can create GPU's with lower memory and bandwidth. And the US can stop export of the high performance GPUs.

    It may seem nitpicking, especially on El Reg. But the problem is that Biden cum suis do have a view on AI that does not differ too much from the joking remarks I made above. And that is scary.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Does the US export only chips with an AIQ (artificial IQ) below 60?

      Can we propose a new el'reg standard for AI chip inteligence?

      Your new supercomputer can be "2.5bHawkings" or your Telsa self-drive is a mere "1.4 Trump"

    2. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Been like that a long time…..

      So, the USA rules have been crazy like this for decades now. ITAR regulations control the export of any “digital computer with performance exceeding 70 Teraflops” due to dual-use, aka nuclear weapons simulations. Yes, “digital computer”, not individual CPU. A couple decades ago, the limit was 1 teraflop. Because physics gets 70x as hard every 20 years, obviously.

      Or the ITAR regulation limiting export of “Equipment specially designed for aggregating the performance of digital computers by providing external interconnections which allow communications at unidirectonal data rates exceeding 2.0 Gbyte/s per link”…..such as any 25/50/100G Ethernet router.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Been like that a long time…..

        "So, the USA rules have been crazy like this for decades now."

        This is why companies will build new semiconductor fabs outside of the US. If they have to, they'll spin off a division and base it in a new country that doesn't have a maze of restrictions. Even during the Cold War, plenty of tech made it to weapons designers in the USSR. US politicians need to start understanding that due to their poor performance over the last few decades, the leaders in new tech are not domestic. Many US military uniforms are made in other countries as there are fewer and fewer clothing makers in the US bidding on the contracts. One day in my lifetime (not far to go now) I might see the last steel mill close in the US.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Been like that a long time…..

        I first became aware of this with encryption. It explains why the DES was eventually superseded by standards developed elsewhere -- using anything American meant that you had to submit to American export regulations which meant that, for example, WEP with anything longer than a 16 bit key needed a license. The government here eventually modified their stance but by then the damage was done -- nobody in their right mind would develop any kind of encryption technology in the US.

        It used to be the same with just about everything else. It was frustrating working in the UK because back in the 80s the UK government was in lock step with the US's, it did what it was told. I thought the lowest point for me was officially requiring a license from the US Department of Commerce to export calculator RAM packs from the UK to Belgium (even thought the packs originated in Japan and only came to the UK from Belgium for programming).

      3. Brian Miller

        Re: Been like that a long time…..

        Yeah, decades. The NCR 32032 (first 32-bit microprocessor) was exported at 12MHz, and ran stateside at 32Mhz. The CPU cards were "crippled" by dropping the clock speed with jumpers on the board.

        And now China is working on its own fabs and chips. Really, what's the point of an export restriction when the targeted country can just build its own products?

        1. CowHorseFrog

          Re: Been like that a long time…..

          We all know China would be a fraction of its economic and military might if it wasnt for the corporate boards that invested in factories in the 80s and contonue to do so until today.

          If those people got jail time, you can be sure the problem of China would be significantly less.

        2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: Been like that a long time…..

          It was the "NS 32032" (made by US company "National Semiconductor").

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Their idea of technology is at the "Small Soldiers" level so what do you expect?

      Its not "Biden" either -- its the bureaucracy. It persists between administrations. Its been like this since at least the 1970s.

    4. Piro Silver badge

      It's nothing new. Just look at the encryption technology export rules of yore

    5. Persona Silver badge

      An IQ of 60 would be a fantastic achievement. That would put it on par with the average 6 or 7 year old. The Cotton Mills and Factories Act 1819 stated that no children under 9 were to be employed and that children aged 9–16 years were limited to 12 hours' work per day so before that a 7 year old could do a days factory work in the UK which suggests that an IQ of 60 could be very usable.

      1. Persona non grata

        That's not how IQ works

        Where did you get the idea that IQ works like that? It's completely wrong.

        1. sebacoustic

          Re: That's not how IQ works

          Where did you get the idea that IQ works? It's completely wrong.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Are these export controls really going to stop the Chinese gov getting hold of them if they really wanted to? I am guessing even the US know that its not, since i am sure there are lot of countries who aren't on the US export control lists who will take Chinese money to buy them and then ship them onto China through the black market.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      I suspect that America is seeing the AI chips used in ways that are not helpful, is this the latest way to deliver spam or something else? There's no public discussion about this but maybe AI is the source of the massive amounts of spam and malware that mail-servers are having to deal with these days? Is AI working to slip through the junk-mail detection?

      And I'm continuously getting spam phone calls at work that all sound like "someone" calling but they are AI driven, "talking" to tell us that we can get a big financial loan by dialing a new number ... that's risky so when the phone rings I say, "Ock kanny elpou, dough ou needle sun nude anne swears?" ... sure I'm not smart AI at all, but AI just hangs up while humans say they can't understand what I'm saying and we can have a laughing conversation when I apologize.

  6. karlkarl Silver badge

    > The rules effectively banned the sale of Nvidia, AMD, and Intel's top spec GPUs

    Isn't Intel partially an israeli company?

    It is apparently the manufacturing center, so strange US/Israel relations aside, I don't see why banning them in the US would at all affect the supply to China.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Isn't Intel partially an israeli company?

      If we're doing conspiracy theories. Intel's biggest chip plants are in Ireland, where the potatoes come from !

      Is Intel working on a salt-n-vinegar i9 ?

  7. CowHorseFrog


    You need to start jailing all the corporate boards and leadership that sent all that technology and built all those factories in china starting in the 80s.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All together ... 'America, america ...' come on ... you do know the tune by now !!!


      Not possible, America is ruled by 'Money' and the politicians are only allowed to 'pretend' that there is something called 'Democrazy or something' to keep the people quiet.

      'Money' will remove anyone who gets in the way !!!

      Quite likely that the 'Great American unwashed' will 'vote' for Trump again as he did such a wonderful job previously.

      [Straining valiantly to keep a straight face ....]

      This will, of course, ensure that 'Money' is safe as Trump is only focused on Trump and how to monitise the POTUS job !!!

      (It also will allow him to pardon himself for any misdemeanors of old !!!)


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All together ... 'America, america ...' come on ... you do know the tune by now !!!


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All together ... 'America, america ...' come on ... you do know the tune by now !!!


          Forgot about that one .... probably more well known to anyone under 30 (fewer* words to remember) ???!!!


          *See the following if this bothers you (I do not care about 'received wisdom' in this case !!!) .....


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All together ... 'America, america ...' come on ... you do know the tune by now !!!

        >(It also will allow him to pardon himself for any misdemeanors of old !!!)

        Only Federal crimes. The POTUS cannot pardon anyone for state level charges - such as those currently being worked on in various states - including New York iirc.

  8. Ideasource Bronze badge

    If you can't compete then cheat.

    The primary behavior trend employed by the US since it's inception.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: If you can't compete then cheat.

      You forgot about accusing the other competitors of cheating whilst cheating.

  9. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

    It was great for bit-twiddliing programs, and had features such that you could, with a bit of external hardware, create a pre-emptive dual-tasking system (though not a general multi-tasking system), albeit with no memory protection.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

      You can do real multitasking on Z80s... SymbOS, Fusix

      Perhaps Biden better send them 6502s. ;)

      1. Piro Silver badge

        Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

        OK that's just cool

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

          Yes, very cool. I absolutely love it. I'm on Ebay after an Amstrad now.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

            The MSX2 version is prettier but MSXes are more expensive.

            Also the lead programmer funded the second Spectrum Next Kickstarter so hopefully it'll be ported to that too when he receives it.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge


        Aiargh! The 1990s called!

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

      The Z80 is still in production.

      And you might be surprised at what sort of mission critical loads it's given. Lot to be said for a simple architecture which hasn't been subject to feature creep and instruction set bloat... And can still be feasibly programmed for whole application in assembler.

    3. Bebu Silver badge

      Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

      Me too.

      If I recall correctly it had two register sets that were (or could) be swapped during interrupt service speeding up ISRs.

      Modern fabrication could probably put oodles of Z80s on a single chip with memory and run really fast :)

      The Z8000 family didn't look too shabby either but I think only Ollivetti ever made a system with it - I only had the Zilog documention some of which probably never made it to silicon.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

        Commodore developed the C900 to replace the PET in the business market, based on the Z8001, but after going to all the trouble of development, adapting a UNIX and setting up a production line in Germany, it was cancelled.

      2. GBE

        Re: But I *Liked* the Z80! ...

        If I recall correctly it had two register sets that were (or could) be swapped during interrupt service speeding up ISRs.

        Yep. But you could also use them to implement very low overhead cooperative co-routines. [That slowed down ISRs a bit compared to using the second register set for ISRs, but coroutines were pretty cool.] One of the cellular phone designs I worked on back around '84 or so used a Z80 clone and that trick. IIRC, it was a joint venture with a british company -- Racal-something[1]. The cell channel limits/spacing were slightly different between the British and US versions...

        [1] Vedic, Redac, ???

        One of the cell-site radio designs I worked on at that same time used the Z8000, and that kicked ass!

  10. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Cirumventing Regulations

    From TFA: existing trade restrictions were insufficient to prevent "clever engineering" to circumvent regulations.

    It's absolutely true. People are quite clever that way. That cleverness is also one reason (of multiple reasons) why laws are so numerous and convoluted: lawmakers make a law, people figure out a legal workaround, lawmakers change or add to the law to try to "plug the hole in the dike", repeat-many-times.

    Dual/muliple-use items are always regulatorily problematic. ("Yes, Charlie, it can be used as an electrically-activated ignitor, but it's steel wool! It's the stuff your missus uses to clean the sink! You want to ban it? Require ID before purchase? ...")

    The most versatile and dangerous weapon of all is the human mind.

  11. martinusher Silver badge

    We've spent decades offshoring everything and anything, invariably to the detriment of our own workforce, and somehow we're then surprised because 'they' took the technology and ran with it. What on Earth did our legislators expect?

    Now that the horse has definitely bolted from the stable we're trying to put everything back was it was. Utterly futile and shows the extreme incompetence of our government.

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Execs Took the Money and Ran

      Companty executives decided they could make more money, short-term, by off-shoring, than by investing in improving their in-country factories and processes, and, you know, competing. "National security" meant nothing to them, unless they could directly profit from it.

      Government turned a blind eye; as always, campaign contributions may have encouraged this.

  12. Jude Bradley

    Shock, China's "home built" chips are actually just clones.

  13. Felonmarmer

    US Gov : All CPUs capable of IO speeds greater than 600GB/sec are banned from exporting to China!

    Company : OK, we'll make some 600GB/sec versions for export.

    US Gov : You are just trying to get around the ban! We'll impose a lower limit!

    Company : OK, we'll make some versions at that limit.

    US Gov : There you go again, trying to get around the ban!

    I don't expect politicians to know technical details, but I do expect them to know about concepts such as "greater than" and "less than".

  14. WhoDecidedThat

    Of PS2s and Nuclear Missles

    Good old Joe might well have a point....think back to the time the PS2 was so powerful, Saddam Hussein allegedly was going to use it to control his missles, that the chips were soooo powerful, they transformed the missiles into supersonic warp speed enabled weapons. And even more frightening, they've watched Wargames and can build on it. This is serious man!!!!

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Re: Of PS2s and Nuclear Missles

      Did Saddam truly need super-duper features in his missiles for them to be a threat? Other than runing rather hot and power-sucky, what's wrong with using the MIPS R5900 (aka "Emotion Engine", the Playstation/2 CPU) as a missile controller?

      Using an actual, entire PS/2 system board as a missile controller? Well, I suppose you could adapt and use the IDE interface for system output signals ...

      Disclaimer: I have zero knowledge of how many inputs and outputs are required of a real-world missile controller.

  15. heyrick Silver badge

    Uh huh

    What's to say that an annoyed China mightn't create something better to replace the stuff they can't get?

    ARM wanted to keep it's secret sauce secret, so now RISC-V exists.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Uh huh

      ARM wasn't keeping stuff secret, it was refusing to let Unis have free licenses, so the Unis rolled their own.

      This is exactly what the Chinese will do if US tries to withhold tech, they will make their own and it will eventually be better.

      Now some older ARM cores are free.

  16. Pete Sdev

    "Give them Z80s, Joe, and tell 'em to like it"

    The Z80 was a nice chip to work with. Far nicer than it's contemporaries such as the 6502.

    I learned assembly programming as a kid on the Z80 with the aid of Usborne's Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners -

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Give them Z80s, Joe, and tell 'em to like it"

      I think the only bad experience anyone had with a Z80 was when Sinclair paired it with the worst keyboard ever.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: "Give them Z80s, Joe, and tell 'em to like it"

        People forget that the worst keyboard ever was the only keyboard within reach for many people. It was affordable.

        I actually did prefer the 6502 over the Z80 for assembler, I think because that's the one I learned first.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: "Give them Z80s, Joe, and tell 'em to like it"

          Atari (somehow) figured out that that using membrane keyboards (as they did on the Atari 400) was not the best way to save money. The Atari 800 had a decent keyboard, as did the Apple ][, Commodore CBMs, VIC-20s, and C-64s, and even Radio Shack TRS-80s.

          The Sinclair Quantum Leap had a cheap, yet reasonably-good keyboard.

  17. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

    Can one make a parallel CPU out of a couple of Z80 CPU's?

  18. Dave81

    Black market

    They’ll just end up smuggling them in at a higher price.

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