Intel offers customized AI processors to China, accelerating large-scale deep learning training

July 12, 2023 8:29 pm

Semiconductor giant Intel Corp has introduced its latest processor tailored for deep-learning applications in artificial intelligence (AI) to mainland China.

During a press conference held in Beijing, Intel executives showcased the Gaudi2 processor, positioning it as Intel's alternative to Nvidia's A100 GPU, which is widely utilized for AI system training. Notably, the Gaudi2 processor is not subject to export restrictions imposed by the United States.

This advanced processor has the capability to enhance the speed of AI training and inference tasks. Major Chinese AI server companies, including Inspur, New H3C, and xFusion, are anticipated to launch server products incorporating the Gaudi 2 processor.

Intel is planning to develop a tailored version of the AI processor specifically for the Chinese market, aiming to comply with regulatory requirements. Chen Baoli, the Vice President of Intel Data Center and AI Group and General Manager of China, highlighted that alongside the introduction of Gaudi 2 in China, Intel has also enhanced the software-level iterative computing capability to address the growing demand for large language models (LLMs).

Intel's recent initiative to bring its latest processor to mainland China, a market that accounted for 27% of its total 2022 revenue according to its latest annual report, highlights the ongoing significance of the Chinese market for US semiconductor technology providers. This move signifies that despite export controls imposed by Washington, US companies recognize the immense value and potential of the mainland market and remain committed to serving its needs.

Earlier this year, Nvidia made similar efforts to introduce modified versions of its flagship A100 and H100 GPUs in China. This move aimed to adhere to US restrictions while ensuring uninterrupted supply lines for customers in mainland China. This development has been driven by the flourishing AI development projects in China, which have resulted in the creation of services similar to OpenAI's ChatGPT.

In August, 2022, the US Department of Commerce imposed a ban on the sale of certain advanced chips to China, affecting companies like Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Specifically, Nvidia was directed to halt the sale of its A100 and H100 GPUs to China, while AMD faced restrictions on exporting its MI250 chips to the mainland. These measures were implemented as part of trade regulations concerning advanced technologies.