Sanctioned Chinese chipmaker Jingjia Microelectronics plans GPU production centre to boost domestic AI industry amidst export controls
Sanctioned Chinese chip maker Jingjia Microelectronics is pushing ahead with plans to develop graphics processing units (GPUs) for artificial intelligence and other applications in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi.
The move comes in spite of US sanctions imposed in late 2021 that bar Shenzhen-listed Jingjia from accessing imported advanced chipmaking technology.
Jingjia’s manufacturing plan is part of a broader Chinese effort to improve its self-sufficiency in advanced chip technologies and to reduce its dependence on foreign firms such as US-based GPU leader Nvidia.
The Wuxi High-Tech District, which is to host the project, said in a statement it has reached an initial deal with Jingjia and added the development is expected to generate 5 billion yuan ($699m, £544m) worth of output per year.
Jingjia said a month ago that it planned to raise 4.2bn yuan through a private sale of shares to invest in two GPU-related projects.
It said at the time it would invest about 3.3bn yuan in the research and development of high-performance general-purpose GPUs and industrialisation, with the rest of the sum to be used to build an R&D centre for advanced GPU architecture.
The firm said the project would help firms replace imported GPUs with domestic ones in fields such as gaming, graphics rendering, data centres, AI and autonomous driving.
Jingjia claims to be China’s biggest GPU manufacturer, but reported 2022 revenues of only 1.2bn yuan, or $168m, compared to Nvidia’s annual sales of $27bn.
The Chinese firm was added to the US Entity List in December 2021 after making advances in GPU design. The US accused it of ties to China’s military.
Iin October 2022 the US introduced broader export controls preventing Chinese firms from accessing advanced US chips or chipmaking technology.
GPUs were specifically targeted by the measures, with Nvidia and Intel developing lower-performance graphics chips for the Chinese market that comply with the restrictions.
Last year Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which makes GPUs for Nvidia, reportedly suspended production of a GPU called the BR100, designed by Chinese start-up Biren Technology, in response to the new controls.