Nvidia AI chips somehow still ship to China despite sanctions

Server? I hardly know 'er.

AI chip render.

United States government bans on shipping AI chips to China don’t seem to have done much to dissuade resellers. Nvidia’s most powerful GPUs are still finding their way into the hands of Chinese universities and research institutes.

Sifting through hundreds of previously unreported tender documents, Reuters uncovered that at least ten Chinese entities managed to get their hands on embedded Nvidia chips after the November 17 sanctions. The AI processors are some of Team Green’s most sophisticated, coming from server products made by Supermicro, Dell, and Gigabyte.

These companies aren’t necessarily to blame. As direct Nvidia partners, they’re also under the same restrictions. Each has denied involvement, stating that they’ve complied with current laws. Nvidia reaffirms this, telling Reuters that these tenders “do not indicate that any of our partners violated the export control rules and are a negligible fraction of the products sold worldwide.”

Instead, fingers point towards 11 lesser-known Chinese retailers that Supermicro states aren’t known customers. After all, it’s not illegal to purchase these chips within the country’s mainland if they’re already there. Apparently, local deliveries occurred between November 20 and February 28. We can’t determine whether these stores stockpiled hardware before the embargo came in or circumvented shipping limitations without the manufacturer’s knowledge.

So long as official retailers document everything, the US government will have difficulty enforcing action. Fortunately, Supermicro states that it “goes above and beyond what US export restrictions require,” ensuring that its customers don’t do anything dodgy. Dell shares a similar sentiment, asserting that its “distributors and resellers are required to comply with all applicable global regulations and export controls. If we become aware of a distributor or reseller that is not complying with these obligations, we take appropriate actions, including termination of our relationship,”

The Department of Commerce doesn’t officially comment on Reuters’ investigation but reassures that it continues to monitor international exports. If it spots any violations, it will “work with our customers to take appropriate action.”