US restricts wide bandgap materials and EDA tools for 3nm chips

US restricts wide bandgap materials and EDA tools for 3nm chips

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

New export controls on wide bandgap materials and EDA design tools for 3nm chips have come into effect today in the US.

The rules were updated by the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on Friday under Section 1758 of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) which the Bureau says are essential to the national security of the United States over and above an international deal known as the Wassenaar Arrangement.

The technologies include Gallium Oxide (Ga2O3) and diamond substrates for high voltage power devices and will potentially impact US multinational II-VI which has a deal with UK firm Element Six on diamond substrate technology.

The export controls also cover Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) software specially designed for the development of integrated circuits with Gate-All Around Field-Effect Transistor (GAAFET) structures. These are supplied by Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems and Siemens EDA. 

These GAA devices are now being introduced at the 3nm node at Samsung and TSMC and follow concern over a 7nm chip developed at SMIC in China.

A fourth category covered Pressure Gain Combustion (PGC) technology used in jet engines and space systems.

 “Technological advancements that allow technologies like semiconductors and engines to operate faster, more efficiently, longer, and in more severe conditions can be game changers in both the commercial and military context,” said Alan Estevez, Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security. “When we recognize the risks as well as the benefits, and act in concert with our international partners, we can ensure that our shared security objectives are met, innovation is supported, and companies across the globe operate on a level playing field.”

“Global commerce is driven by innovation—new ideas, and novel ways to apply old ones. BIS is vigilant in assessing the development of new technology and whether it may be used for civil and military purposes,” said Thea Rozman Kendler, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration.

“We are protecting the four technologies identified in today’s rule from nefarious end use by applying controls through a multilateral regime. This rule demonstrates our continued commitment to imposing export controls together with our international partners. Export controls are most effective when multilaterally imposed.”

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