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How Biden’s microchip ban is damaging China’s AI weapons efforts

(Image Credit Google)
Two dozen red, blue, and gold cranes could be seen throughout the 40-acre building site as President Joe Biden's convoy approached it. A sign that said "A Future built in America: Phoenix, Arizona" and an American flag were also affixed to one of the site's buildings. The location will house a brand-new Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company factory. After the CHIPS Act was passed in July, which included $52 billion in subsidies and tax incentives for companies that manufacture semiconductors domestically, Biden had come to promote the company's recently announced $40 billion investment in American microelectronics manufacturing.

“American manufacturing is back, folks,” Biden proclaimed.

The president's speech in December centered on creating new employment in a swing state, which is essential for both political and economic success. However, he also revealed a "gamechanger." The most cutting-edge microelectronics in the world, 3-nanometer chips, would be produced in Arizona by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company starting in 2026. Additionally, TSMC plans to begin manufacturing 20,000 5-nanometer chips per month in Arizona early the next year. A new initiative in Washington to lessen reliance on East Asia, the world's epicenter of semiconductor production, for the essential microelectronics required to create both conventional weapons and the artificial intelligence algorithms crucial to building the weapons of the future, has been sparked by rising tensions with China. But the U.S. government's equally urgent efforts to halt China's breakthroughs, including new limitations that restrict Beijing's access to these extremely sophisticated processors, were not mentioned in Biden's speech in Arizona. The Bureau of Industry and Security of the Commerce Department established a broad range of export restrictions in October that severely restrict China's access to some of the most advanced microchips produced today. Despite the fact that these chips are also utilized in civilian technologies, the bureau had suggested that Beijing could use them to "build advanced military equipment."

Alan Estevez, the undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, said in December that the export controls will “slow China’s ability to produce the highest-end semiconductors, for a period of time.”

“They will figure this out,” he added. “But what we’ve done is pretty comprehensive.”

With the help of the Commerce Department's limitations, the United States is actively preventing China from achieving its long-term goals of military development. Even after the Taiwanese company starts producing its cutting-edge semiconductors in Arizona, the export rules prevent companies like TSMC from continuing to manufacture these complex microchips in China. A few days after the rules were announced, TSMC was granted a one-year U.S. waiver to keep running its Nanjing, China, semiconductor production facility, but with one stipulation. Its operations in China must continue to be restricted to making low-end semiconductors rather than the cutting-edge chips essential to China's development of artificial intelligence (AI), which are subject to the new U.S. export restrictions.

By Awanish Kumar

I keep abreast of the latest technological developments to bring you unfiltered information about gadgets.


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