US Government Rejects Intel’s Attempt For Easy Xeon Processor Design Win In China

The cyberwar and war of words between the United States and China is never-ending. When we last visited the tense relationship between the U.S. and China, President Barack Obama was crying foul over draft anti-terrorism legislation that would negatively affect American companies conducting business in China. More to the point, Obama took direct issue with language in the bill that would require American companies operating within China to deliver encryption keys to the Chinese government, install security backdoors, and keep all user data on Chinese soil.

"Those kinds of restrictive practices I think would ironically hurt the Chinese economy over the long term,” said Obama in a March interview with Reuters. “I don’t think there is any U.S. or European firm, any international firm, that could credibly get away with that wholesale turning over of data, personal data, over to a government.”

In the latest pissing contest between the U.S. and China, the U.S. Department of Commerce has forbid chip giant Intel from selling its potent Xeon server processors that were to be used in Chinese supercomputing efforts. Intel was told back in August that it would need an export license to sell the chips to the Chinese institutions, and once it did file the proper paperwork, the U.S. Department of Commerce still put a block on the sale.

Intel xeon

“Intel complied with the notification and applied for the license which was denied,” said Intel in a statement on Friday. “We are in compliance with the U.S. law.”

Four Chinese institutions have been placed on the banned list by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Intel is unfortunately caught in the middle of this spat between two of the world’s largest superpowers. According to the U.S. government, the institutions have been “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

One of the institutions on the banned list, the Chinese National University of Defense Technology, helped to construct the Tianhe-1A and Tianhe-2 supercomputers. Tianhe-2 is currently the world’s fastest supercomputer (55 peak petaflops), but will be far outpaced by two upcoming U.S.-based supercomputer efforts called “Summit” and “Sierra.” Summit, which will be housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory will produce between 150 to 300 petaflops; while Summit, which will call the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory its home, will produce in excess of 100 peak petaflops.

With Intel now forbidden to sell its hardware for Chinese supercomputing efforts, China will likely accelerate its efforts to use its own homegrown processors.