Skyscrapers of the city in China around a river at dusk

China builds AI chip factory following US trade restrictions

China is reportedly moving forward with plans to build a semiconductor factory that could power its artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions following trade restrictions set by the United States, South China Morning Post reports.

China has set things in motion to construct a particle accelerator to create AI semiconductor chips. Researchers from Tsinghua University are in talks with administrators in Xiongan New Area over potential locations to site the proposed factory.

The first-of-its-kind model will see China position lithography machines around a single particle accelerator, a step away from the Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography (ASML) strategy.

The new strategy to be used by China will encourage “high-volume, low-cost” chip manufacturing in Mainland China. Experts have pointed out that after factory completion, China may become the leading hub for advanced chip production.

However, the novel project faces some stumbling blocks, including the challenge of “guiding the distribution of electrons” in the particle accelerator’s storage ring. Plans for the project have been underway since 2010, with preliminary tests at Germany’s Metrological Light Source (MLS) recording early successes.

“One of the potential applications of our research is as a light source for future EUV lithography machines,” said Professor Tang Chuanxiang, lead researcher for Tsinghua University. “I think this is why the international community is paying close attention.”

China’s attempts to encourage local chip production after the U.S. imposed severe trade restrictions against the country. U.S. chip manufacturers, including NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) and AMD (NASDAQ: AMD), have been barred from selling their products to China over national security concerns.

In response, China imposed restrictions on the export of Germanium and Gallium, raw materials required to manufacture semiconductors. On the home front, Chinese technology firms have been developing their generative AI models with locally designed chips to rival offerings from Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and OpenAI.

Since the Chinese government introduced interim AI rules, Chinese AI developers have floated over 70 AI products, with Alibaba and Baidu taking the lead.

Global rules for AI in the works

Underneath the dash for AI chips is a push to establish a global framework for AI regulation to prevent bad actors. While several jurisdictions have attempted to regulate the sector independently, the U.K. is pushing for an international approach to policing the disruptive industry.

Aware of AI’s threat to Web3, health, finance, and security, the U.K. is set to host the first-ever global AI summit in November, with AI developers expected to attend. The Summit’s agenda will span several issues, including copyrights, data privacy, disclosure, labeling, and the economic impacts of AI in the long term.

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