The global leader in GPUs (Nvidia), has reportedly placed an urgent order with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to expedite the production of modified artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) GPU chips for its Chinese customers. This move is said to fall under the designation of a ‘Super Hot Run,’ indicating a high-priority order with a swift turnaround time, with fulfillment expected in the first quarter of 2024.
The information, first reported by Laoyaoba.com and corroborated by industry analysis from TrendForce, suggests that Nvidia is navigating complex terrain by tailoring a specific lineup of AI and HPC GPUs for the Chinese market. The motivation behind this urgency is believed to be twofold: to meet the unique demands of the Chinese clientele and to navigate stringent U.S. export regulations.
While the authenticity of the report remains unverified, it highlights Nvidia’s strategic decision to address the specific needs of its Chinese customers. The report suggests that the modified GPUs for the Chinese market include the HGX H20 GPU (SXM card, GH100 silicon, 96 GB HBM3 memory), L20 (PCIe card, AD102 silicon, 48 GB GDDR6 memory), and L2 (PCIe card, AD104 silicon, 24 GB GDDR6 memory), all of which utilize existing silicon.
Notably, Nvidia employs methods common among chip designers to limit the performance of these GPUs, such as altering the microcode or modifying certain fuses within the GPU, avoiding the need for redesign and alternative configurations.
The initial release date for this lineup, initially set for December 2023, has now been pushed to Q1 2024, sparking speculation about potential reasons for the delay. One plausible explanation is that Nvidia is taking precautions to ensure compliance with U.S. government restrictions on these China-specific GPU products. The adjustment in the timeline raises questions about the intricate balance that global tech companies like Nvidia must strike between serving diverse markets and adhering to geopolitical regulations.
The details of Nvidia’s urgent request to TSMC remain shrouded in uncertainty. It is unclear whether the ‘Super Hot Run’ order is a result of a sudden surge in demand, a modification in the production process to expedite delivery, or an attempt to mitigate potential production costs. Nvidia, having pre-purchased a substantial amount of TSMC capacity, adds a layer of complexity to understanding the necessity of such an urgent order.
The report, being unofficial, urges caution in interpreting the information. Despite this, it sheds light on the evolving dynamics in the tech industry, where global players like Nvidia are compelled to adapt swiftly to the nuanced requirements of regional markets while navigating geopolitical intricacies.
As the tech world awaits official confirmation and further details, this development underscores the challenges and intricacies faced by companies operating in a global landscape, where geopolitical considerations play a significant role in shaping business strategies and product deliveries.