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US blacklishes CPU makers Phytium and Sunway

The Bureau of Industry and Security of the Commerce Department believes that the seven entities recently added to its blacklist supported the modernization of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army through the production of super computers used for military purposes, the development of new weapons of mass destruction. and other destabilizing efforts. In particular, four supercomputer sites in China have been listed, including the Jinan National Supercomputing Center, Shenzhen, Wuxi and Zhengzhou.

Phytium and Sunway will not be able to obtain foreign technology

In addition, the blacklist now includes CPU designer Phytium, who develops chips for ARM-based client and server PCs and Sunway, which as part of the Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center designs proprietary supercomputer processors.

Inclusion of an entity on this blacklist restricts its ability to access items and technologies that are part of the US Export Administration Regulations (EAR). US companies are prohibited from exporting, re-exporting, or transferring items subject to the EAR to blacklisted entities without a special license that will be subject to a presumption of denial, meaning that except with express permission, they will not be able to sell anything to these Chinese companies.

CPUs and SoCs, including those in super computers, are designed using Electronic Design Automation (EDA) as well as other tools and technologies developed in the US Without access to these tools and technologies it will be almost impossible for Phytium or Sunway follow developing your processorsAlthough it is not clear if other semiconductor manufacturers such as SMIC can take over the production of chips for Phytium or Sunway.

Many supercomputer centers in China today use domestically developed processors, but they still use certain technologies designed in the US and would need to order a license appropriate to continue to function.

“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many, perhaps almost all, modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons.” US Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement. “The Commerce Department will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from harnessing US technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts.”

Previously, the DoC blacklisted Huawei Technologies and its chip design arm HiSilicon, as well as the contract chip maker SMIC for the same reasons to support the country’s military efforts.

What impact will this have on the international hardware market?

Actually, at the European level, which is what affects us not too much; the main manufacturers of processors are still Intel and AMD, both American, so for now there is no danger of lack of supply or development of their technologies. However, past news showed that China was catching up on the development of CPUs and a clear example was the Phytium D2000 processor of ARM architecture with which the Chinese manufacturer intended to present competition to Intel and AMD even in the high-end of processors.


Already in January we commented that despite the fact that this company claimed to be independent, it had been associated with the National University of Defense Technology of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, so it was evident that its factories, still unknown, were they would be found within Chinese territory and using national resources and not outsourcing production or importing technologies.

Ultimately, this means that China will have to ‘make do’ with what it has internally at the national level to further develop its products, although it should also be noted that the main manufacturer of lithography machines (ASML) is Dutch and has no veto. some to sell their products to China.