Trump Administration Adds China’s Biggest Chip Maker To Trade Blacklist For Alleged Military Ties

Topline

The U.S. Department of Defense added China’s biggest chipmaker, SMIC and major oil firm CNOOC to a trade blacklist due to their alleged ties to the country’s military, continuing the outgoing Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese firms.

Key Facts

Late on Thursday, the Department of Defense announced a total of four additions to its blacklist also including China Construction Technology Co Ltd and China International Engineering Consulting Corp.

SMIC, which is China’s biggest semiconductor maker, relies heavily on equipment and software from U.S. suppliers to design and manufacture its chips.

In a stock exchange filing on Friday the Chinese chipmaker said that it was aware of the action and was still evaluating the potential fallout.

Crucial Quote

In a Wall Street Journal

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China aims to shake US grip on chip design tools

Veteran engineers and high-level executives are leaving top US chip design toolmakers for Chinese rivals as Beijing seeks to break America’s near monopoly on this key segment of the semiconductor industry.

Three Chinese start-ups established since September last year were founded by or have hired executives and engineers from Synopsys and Cadence Design Systems of the US, the world’s two biggest makers of electronic design automation (EDA) tools, as such software is known.

The start-ups include Nanjing-based X-Epic, Shanghai Hejian Industrial Software and Hefei-based Advanced Manufacturing EDA Co, or Amedac, in which Synopsys owns a stake.

The push to recruit US chip tool talent comes as Washington’s crackdown on Huawei Technologies exposes key weaknesses in China’s chipmaking ecosystem, including in EDA tools, which are used to design integrated circuits, printed circuit boards and other electronic systems.

The US has long dominated the segment, with Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor Graphics and Ansys

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Intel unveils its second-generation quantum computing control chip

Intel unveiled its second-generation quantum computing control chip during its Intel Labs virtual event today. The chip, code-named Horse Ridge II, is another milestone toward making quantum computing — one of the holy grails of computing — more practical. The new prototype builds on the first-generation Horse Ridge controller introduced in 2019. Horse Ridge II has more capability and higher levels of integration to control a quantum computer, which remains a long-term goal for the company.

At the outset of the project, Intel’s researchers designed the scalable system-on-chip (SOC) to operate at cryogenic temperatures, simplifying the control electronics and interconnects required to elegantly scale and operate large quantum computing systems. The challenge of quantum computing is that right now, it only really works at near-freezing temperatures. Intel is trying to change that, but in the meantime, the control chip eliminates having to run hundreds of wires into a refrigerated case

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Intel, partners make new strides in Loihi neuromorphic computing chip development

Intel has released new performance benchmarks for the Loihi neuromorphic computing processor, revealing improvements in power consumption and efficiency. 

During Intel’s virtual Lab Day, on Thursday, the tech giant revealed Loihi chip improvements in voice command recognition, gesture recognition in artificial intelligence (AI) applications, image retrieval, search functions, and robotics. 

Neuromorphic computing aims to use computer science to propel rule and classical logic-based AI builds into more flexible systems that emulate human cognition, including contextual interpretation, sensory applications, and autonomous adaptation. 

Intel says that neuromorphic computing focuses on emulating the human brain and implementing stable probabilistic computing, which creates “algorithmic approaches to dealing with the uncertainty, ambiguity, and contradiction in the natural world” — just like humans are capable of.

However, speaking to attendees of the virtual event, Rich Uhlig, VP and Director of Intel Labs added a caveat: progress in neuromorphic computing has “come at the cost of ever-increasing

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Intel upgrades quantum computer ambitions with new control chip

Intel unveiled on Thursday its Horse Ridge 2 processor for controlling quantum computers, an important milestone in making the potentially revolutionary machines practical.



Intel's Horse Ridge 2 chip, packaged in this metal housing, is designed to simplify communications between a quantum processor and conventional computers.


© Intel

Intel’s Horse Ridge 2 chip, packaged in this metal housing, is designed to simplify communications between a quantum processor and conventional computers.


The Horse Ridge 2 isn’t a quantum processor itself but is designed to solve the challenges of communicating with future quantum processors with thousands or more qubits. The processor is the second generation of a family that debuted in 2019.

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The processor comes as Intel endeavors to catch up with quantum computer rivals like IBM and Google. The chipmaker hopes it eventually will leapfrog the competition with processors housing vastly more qubits, the data processing element fundamental to quantum computers, than its competitors have. Horse Ridge 2 moves Intel closer to that goal by making Intel’s large-qubit-count designs more workable.

Making

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Why Taiwan Towers Over Chip Industry

(Veteran tech columnist Jon Markman publishes Strategic Advantage, a popular daily guide to the great digital transformation of business and society — and how to invest in it. Click here for a free two-week trial.)

They way computers think is undergoing a profound change and that is a really big opportunity for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing ((TSM) -Get Report), an Asia microprocessor contracting company.

At the AWS re:Invent conference on Tuesday managers revealed AWS Trainium, a custom made computer chip for running high performance tasks at data centers. The future of computing is here.

Goodbye Intel ((INTC) -Get Report). Hello made to order.

That assessment may seem a bit extreme. Intel is the world’s largest vertically integrated semiconductor company. The company still designs, makes and markets the brains for most of the world’s personal computers and data centers. It’s a robust business that generated $71.9 billion

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Amazon debuts Trainium, a custom chip for machine learning training in the cloud

Amazon today debuted AWS Trainium, a chip custom-designed to deliver what the company describes as cost-effective machine learning model training in the cloud. It comes ahead of the availability of new Habana Gaudi-based Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances built specifically for machine learning training, powered by Intel’s new Habana Gaudi processors.

“We know that we want to keep pushing the price performance on machine learning training, so we’re going to have to invest in our own chips,” AWS CEO Andy Jassy said during a keynote address at Amazon’s re:Invent conference this morning. “You have an unmatched array of instances in AWS, coupled with innovation in chips.”

Amazon AWS Tranium

Amazon claims that Trainium will offer the most teraflops of any machine learning instance in the cloud, where a teraflop translates to a chip being able to process one trillion calculations a second. (Amazon is quoting 30% higher throughput and 45% lower cost-per-inference

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Massive Computer Chip Could Process Simulations “Faster Than Real-Time”

As smartphones and computers have got smaller, the pressure is on technology companies to keep up and produce computer chips that are faster than before, but the same size or smaller than their predecessors. However, one company still believes that bigger is better.

Cerebras systems have designed a goliath computer chip that may be capable of sailing past the competition in specific tasks, claims a collaboration between Cerebras and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in a preprint paper (not yet peer-reviewed) published on arXIV and presented to the SC20 conference this week. Designed to “revolutionize deep learning,” the CS-1 measures 8.5 inches (21.6 centimeters) across, packs in 1.2 trillion transistors, and, according to the company, is 200 times faster than rival supercomputer Joule 2.0 (the 82nd fastest supercomputer in the world) in a combustion simulation.

In fact, this chip could be so fast that it could simulate an event

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World’s biggest computer chip can simulate the future ‘faster than the laws of physics’, creators claim

A recent test of the biggest computer chip in the world found that it can predict what is going to happen in the future “faster than the laws of physics produce the same result”, researchers have said.



a group of people on a stage


© Provided by The Independent


The Cerebras CS-1 chip, which contains 1.2 trillion transistors, performed 200-times faster than a supercomputer when simulating combustion within a powerplant.

The 462 cm2 chip proved so powerful in analysing over a million variables – from fluctuating temperatures to 3D air movement – that it was able to show what would happen faster than real-time.

Developed in partnership with the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Cerebras CS-1 is described as “the world’s most powerful AI compute system”. The number of transistors is 22-times that of the recently announced Nvidia A100 80GB chip, designed for state-of-the-art supercomputers.

“This work opens the door for major

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AMD CEO Lisa Su gets chip industry’s highest honor

Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su has received the chip industry’s highest honor as the 2020 recipient of the Robert N. Noyce Award.

The Semiconductor Industry Association, the chip industry lobbying group, gave her the award in an online ceremony today. Normally, the event takes place in San Jose, California, and has about 1,000 attendees.

Su’s award represents the first time the award has gone to a woman since it was started in 1991.

“It’s an incredible privilege to be part of this industry,” said Su. “I actually fell in love with semiconductors in my first year at MIT. My first job was doing grunt work in a semiconductor lab. If you look at this year, what is resoundingly clear is that technology is becoming even more important.”

The SIA presents the Noyce Award annually in recognition of a leader who has made outstanding contributions to the semiconductor industry in

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