China’s Biren GPUs Can’t Be Made at TSMC Due To US Regulations & Competition With NVIDIA

Hassan Mujtaba

China's chip startup, Birentech, won't be allowed to manufacture its Biren GPUs at TSMC due to US rules & competition with NVIDIA.

China's Most Powerful GPU, The Biren BR100, Won't Be Manufactured At TSMC Due To US Rules & NVIDIA Competition

The US recently suspended all of its top chipmakers, including NVIDIA and AMD, from selling their chips to China. It was cited that having access to NVIDIA and AMD GPUs for AI and datacenter can give China a similar edge in warfare as the United States of America. Now, the US is making things much harder by suspending TSMC from manufacturing any chip from China including the Biren BR100.

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The Biren BR100 is a general-purpose GPU that has been developed by a small startup based in Shanghai, China, known as Birentech. The company fully disclosed its architecture recently at Hot Chips.

According to the details, Birentech had tapped TSMC's 7nm process node to manufacture their GPU. The GPU was going to measure at a behemoth 1074mm2 and feature a total of 77.0 Billion transistors. Birentech also disclosed how their chip would be up to 2.8x faster than NVIDIA Ampere A100 GPUs which are some of the fastest data center chips that one can get access to.

The chip would have been an alternative to NVIDIA's Hopper H100 and Ampere A100 GPUs which had already been banned from supply in China. But a report by Bloomberg now suggests that the US has officially asked TSMC to suspend the production of advanced silicon for Birentech.

The decision is connected with information in the public domain that Biren’s products outperform Nvidia Corp.’s A100 chips, which are now banned for the Chinese market, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter. While TSMC has not reached a conclusion on whether Biren’s products meet the US threshold for restrictions, the Taiwanese chipmaker has decided to stop supplies to the Chinese startup for now, the person said.

Biren, one of China’s most promising semiconductor designers, earlier concluded its artificial intelligence chips produced by TSMC are not covered by the latest US export restrictions because the specs of its products don’t meet the criteria for curbs, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

A representative for TSMC said the company complies with all relevant rules, and declined to comment further. No one at Shanghai-based Biren was immediately available to respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours.

via Bloomberg

Image: Ann Wang/Reuters

Birentech was meant to create a fleet of GPUs such as the Biren BR100 and BR104 which were going to compete against Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD. It was definitely an ambitious design and one that looked like it could prove to be a major dent for the top-three US companies in the server/AI segment in Asian Pacific markets but with TSMC's suspension, it looks like Birentech would either have to delay or suspend the manufacturing plans for Biren GPUs for the foreseeable future.

News Source: Bloomberg

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