China’s internet giants are rushing to acquire high-performance Nvidia chips vital for building generative artificial intelligence systems, making orders worth $5bn in a buying frenzy fuelled by fears the US will impose new export controls.
Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent and Alibaba have made orders worth $1bn to acquire about 100,000 A800 processors from the US chipmaker to be delivered this year, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The Chinese groups had also purchased a further $4bn worth of the graphics processing units to be delivered in 2024, two people close to Nvidia said.
The A800 is a weakened version of Nvidia’s cutting-edge A100 GPU for data centres. Due to export restrictions imposed by Washington last year in a bid to choke Beijing’s technological ambitions, Chinese tech companies are only able to buy A800s, which have slower data transfer rates than A100s.