Code again? The United States considers restricting the export of memory chip manufacturing equipment above 128 layers to China

Aug 02,2022

The United States is considering restricting shipments of U.S. chip-making equipment to Chinese memory chip makers, four people familiar with the matter said. It is understood that U.S. officials will ban exports to China of equipment used to make NAND memory chips with more than 128 layers.

If the plan comes to fruition, it could also harm companies such as South Korean memory chip giant Samsung, the sources said. The move will also seek to protect Western Digital Corp., the only U.S. maker of memory chips, and Micron Technology Corp., which together account for about a quarter of the NAND chip market.

All sources, however, said the U.S. government's deliberations on the matter were at an early stage and no proposed regulations had been drafted.

When asked to comment on a possible move, a spokesman for the Commerce Department, which oversees export controls, did not discuss potential restrictions, but noted that "the Biden administration is focused on compromising (China's) efforts to manufacture advanced semiconductors to address significant U.S. national Security Risk."

It is unclear what impact these potential restrictions might have on other Chinese players.