The US Blocks China from Accessing Technology Critical for the Design of Advanced Chip Software

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The United States Department of Commerce announced a multilateral export control on certain advanced chip design software required to manufacture next-generation processors.

According to the Protocol report, the announcement made on August 12, 2022, is an extension of export controls that target chipmaking tools to block China and other countries’ effort to build the most complex chips locally.

The new export control targets certain electronic design automation (EDA), a specialized software produced by companies like Cadence, Mentor Graphic, and Synopsys and used in chipmaking. These three companies control about 70% of EDA’s global market.

The export restriction aims to discourage Chinese firms from pursuing AI applications and hamper them from making chips using an emerging technology known as gate all around, critical in building chips with gate-all-around designs that can deliver better computing power with lesser energy than current chips.

Struggling to Build Advanced Chips

Although China has tried to build the most advanced chips, it has not yet passed the 14-nanometer level, a process perfected by Samsung, TSMC, and Intel about eight years ago.

Recent reports indicated that the Southeast Asian country had successfully manufactured a 7-nanometer chip, though some industry experts have been skeptical of the claim.

However, nanometer can be a misleading naming convention. At some point, it was used to refer to the size of a specific feature on a chip. But, the term is currently marketing technology.

The US Commerce Department announced it was enforcing chip-related control that 42 countries agreed upon in December 2021. Biden’s administration will lead 41 other countries, including Germany, in implementing the export controls.

The US restricted Chinese Tech Giant Huawei from accessing all US EDA tools in 2019. The current administration is set to continue with the Trump administration’s preference for export restrictions as a trade war weapon.


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