US announces tougher export controls on advanced chip technology

In short: the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has unveiled stricter export controls on several items with commercial and military applications, including materials such as gallium oxide and diamond, software used to design advanced chips and new technology that could soon improve gas turbines. .

The BRI, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, announced new export controls on technologies deemed critical to US national security. The rule took effect on Monday and involves four technologies supporting the production of advanced semiconductors and gas turbine engines.

All four technologies are covered by the Wassenaar Arrangement, indicating that 41 other states will also impose stricter export controls on these items. Notably missing from this list of countries is China, a strategic competitor of the United States.

“We are protecting the four technologies identified in today’s rule from harmful end-use by applying controls through a multilateral regime,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea D said. Rozman Kendler.

The new rule will result in tighter export controls for gallium oxide and diamond, two ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor substrates. Devices made using these materials are said to have increased military potential because they operate under more severe conditions, such as higher voltage or higher temperature, than devices made from gallium nitride or carbide. of silicon.

Pressure-gained combustion (PGC), a technology under investigation that could improve the thermal efficiency of gas turbines, is also affected by the new rule. BRI notes that PGC has potential for land and aerospace applications, including rockets and hypersonic systems.

The latest technology affected by the new export controls is electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) software created to help develop integrated circuits with the GAAFET structure. Engineers use ECAD software to design, analyze, optimize, and validate the performance of integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. This technology is essential for scaling process nodes at 3nm and below.

Restriction of ECAD systems is likely to have minimal short-term impact on China’s chip manufacturing industry as no Chinese foundry can produce such advanced chips at this stage (SMIC is closest with a DUV-based node of 7nm). However, future breakthroughs are likely to take longer when it comes to sub-3nm processes.

Earlier this month, the United States introduced new restrictions on exports of chipmaking tools to China. Meanwhile, Huawei reported another drop in revenue. The BRI added the company to the Entity List three years ago.

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