China’s new CPU rules exclude two major manufacturers

  • Chinese government offices above the township level will have to source processors from an approved list of vendors.
  • This list is missing the big names of Intel and AMD suggesting that the chips don’t meet the requirements of “safe and reliable”.
  • This is the latest in a war of bans between China and the US.

Back in the before times of 2018, then US President Donald Trump signed an act that banned US government and government contractors from using tech built by Huawei and ZTE. Now, China has adopted a similar ban according to reports.

On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that China is enforcing guidelines that would effectively destroy Intel and AMD’s business in the country. The guidelines include a list of approved vendors government offices can purchase CPUs from local manufacturers and neither Intel nor AMD is on that list. Microsoft’s Windows is also not on the list of approved operating systems. Purchase of Intel and AMD processors is still possible but there appears to be a lot of red tape attached to those use cases.

As such, government agencies and other officials must source “safe and reliable” processors and operating systems from local providers.

The publication notes that Intel and AMD may find it tough to get onto China’s list of approved processors. This is because companies hoping to get on to the list must submit documentation about the research and development and code of the chip. It appears that another requirement is how much design and development of the chip happens within China’s borders.

That last point is especially noteworthy as Intel and AMD can’t operate at full capacity in China. For instance, in 2022, the US banned the sale of semiconductors and the machines to make them to China. This means that selling AI chips to China is banned.

From where we’re sitting, a lack of AI chips, manufacturing facilities and more would count against AMD and Intel in China’s evaluation.

This is also terrible news for the two chip giants. For Intel, it’s losing 27 percent of its revenue from sales and AMD is losing 15 percent of its sales.

Unfortunately, neither company has commented on the matter so it’s unlear what will happen next. The pair could negotiate with the Chinese government which we would suspect is the next move.

This does pave a way for Chinese chipmakers to increase their revenue with Intel and AMD out of the picture. Huawei could stand to benefit and we could start seeing Chinese competition to the big dogs in countries where China does export.

The goal here for China is seemingly to grow its CPU manufacturing sector and we can’t argue with the potential for more competition in the global sector.

This war of bans between the US and China is sure to continue well into the future and we suspect it will only ramp up in its severity as each government tries to one-up the other. Both countries appear to be locking themselves down through trade restrictions that only get worse in severity.

We’re concerned about this but also morbidly curious to see where or rather if, these bans ever end.


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