U.S. Proposes Restrictions On Tech Investments In China

Chips, quantum, AI, and EDA would be sharply limited under Treasury Department plan.


The U.S. proposed new regulations to curtail American investments in Chinese technologies that pose a national security threat, specifically calling out semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and AI.

The draft regulations come nearly a year after the Biden administration issued an executive order prohibiting investments in sensitive technologies used to accelerate China’s military technologies.  “This proposed rule advances our national security by preventing the many benefits certain U.S. investments provide — beyond just capital — from supporting the development of sensitive technologies in countries that may use them to threaten our national security,” said Paul Rosen, assistant secretary of the treasury for investment security, in a release.

Prohibited Semiconductor Transactions

The 165-page proposal defines prohibited semiconductor transactions (pages 133-134), which include:

  • EDA software for the design of ICs or advanced packaging;
  • Front-end semiconductor fab equipment designed for performing the volume fabrication of ICs, including equipment used in the production stages from a blank wafer or substrate to a completed wafer or substrate;
  • Equipment for performing volume advanced packaging;
  • Commodity, material, software, or technology designed exclusively for use in or with EUV lithography equipment;
  • Design of ICs for operation at or below 4.5 Kelvin, and ICs that meet or exceed performance criteria in Export Control Classification Number 3A090;
  • Fabrication of logic ICs using a non-planar transistor architecture, or with a production technology node of 16/14 nanometers or less, including FD-SOI ICs;
  • Fabrication of NAND with 128 layers or more, or DRAM ICs at 18nm half-pitch or less;
  • Fabrication of gallium-based compound semiconductors, or ICs using graphene transistors or carbon nanotubes, and
  • Any IC using advanced packaging techniques.


Prohibited AI And Supercomputing Transactions

Prohibited transactions for supercomputers and artificial intelligence (pages 134-135) include:

  • Any supercomputer enabled by advanced ICs that can provide a theoretical compute capacity of 100 or more double-precision (64-bit) petaflops, or 200 or more single-precision (32-bit) petaflops of processing power within a 41,600 cubic foot or smaller envelope;
  • Any quantum computer, or production of any of the critical components required to produce a quantum computer, such as a dilution refrigerator or two-stage pulse tube cryocooler;
  • Quantum sensing platforms for military, government or mass-surveillance end use;
  • Quantum network or quantum communication system, and
  • AI for military end use, weapons targeting, target identification, and military decision-making.

Written comments are due by Aug. 4, 2024. The regulations are expected to be finalized this calendar year.

More Reading:
Chip Industry Week In Review
GF, BAE team up; $2B Czech SiC plant; SEMI’s capacity report; imec’s CFETs, beamforming transmitters; Germany chip plant postponed; EUV patterning advances; interconnect metals; plasma etch.


Daniel B says:

What a charade, They let me entire industry be destroyed, gutted and shipped to china in the aughts and suddenly now they care?

We have created a serious skills gap and the longer this is allowed, the worse it’s going to be to rebuild. And there’s a tipping point where it will be impossible to do so and that point is closing in.

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