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Nvidia CEO: U.S. chipmakers at least a decade away from China supply chain independence

Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA, arrives for the Inaugural AI Insight Forum in Russell Building on Capitol Hill, on Wednesday, September 13, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

U.S. chipmakers are at least a decade away from “supply chain independence” from China, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.

“We should absolutely go down the journey of it,” Huang said in an appearance at the New York Times’ DealBook Conference, referring to the Biden administration’s effort to delink China from U.S. chip supply. “But total independence of supply chain is not a real practical thing for a decade or two.”

Asked whether Nvidia should continue to do business with China, Huang said, “We’re a company that was built for business and so we try to do business with everybody we can. On the other hand, our national security matters and our national competitiveness matters.”

Nvidia warned in its third-quarter earnings on Nov. 21 that it expects a negative impact from U.S. export controls during the fourth quarter

Nvidia has been subject to increasingly tighter export controls, limiting its ability to send its most high-powered GPUs used for artificial intelligence to China. “The most critical technology that we build, the leading edge of it is not made available to China,” Huang told Sorkin.

But Huang also noted that China can find a way to obtain that technology or “inspire” domestic chipmakers. Nvidia is still a decade ahead of those companies, Huang said in specific reference to sanctioned Chinese manufacturer Huawei.

The Biden administration has prioritized limiting China’s access to financial and intellectual resources. Beyond the export of advanced chips, the U.S. government has also imposed restrictions on which industries U.S. venture firms can invest in within China.

Huang also opined on the rapid progression of AI development. Nvidia has played a key role in growing the industry, through its increasingly powerful GPUs. Huang said that AI which equals human intellect will be achieved within five years.

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