China at Major Risk of Losing Global Memory Chip, AI Race Due to Chip Trade Restrictions

China may lag behind in the global memory chip and artificial intelligence (AI) race amid Beijing's restriction on US-based Micron Technology and export sanctions by Joe Biden administration on American companies on sharing tech with China, the media reported on Sunday.

China was recently seen as catching up quickly with global suppliers in the field of advanced 3D NAND flash and DRAM memory chips, but not anymore, reports the South China Morning Post.

chip war
Demo chips made with chiplets by Silicon Valley startup zGlue are seen in this picture taken in Richmond, California, U.S., Ju Reuters

The gaps "have widened again in the era of ChatGPT as Yangtze Memory Technologies Corporation (YMTC) and ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT) are unable to press ahead with catch up efforts due to the US export restrictions," said the report.

This could seriously hinder China's ability to develop large artificial intelligence (AI) models as South Korean companies like Samsung and SK Hynix take the lead.

Advanced chips
Advanced chips Reuters

Samsung said last month it had completed development of GDDR7 DRAM for AI applications, and it will double down on high-bandwidth memory in 2024 to meet growing demand in AI applications.

"Meanwhile, rival SK Hynix, which tops the global HBM market with a 50 per cent market share, is also set to double its HBM production next year for AI servers," the report noted.

Micron Technology
Micron Technology Reuters

Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix "remain the default choice for many downstream buyers and that Beijing's restrictions on Micron mostly benefited its two South Korean competitors".

Micron had a 15 per cent share of China's server DRAM market.

Big Tech Chinese firms like Alibaba Group, Tencent and are keen to develop generative AI models. However, the restrictions are hampering their efforts.

Related topics : Artificial intelligence