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US Quietly Tightens Grip on Exports of Chipmaking Gear to China

  • Lam Research and KLA were notified of new China restrictions
  • US is trying to contain China’s semiconductor ambitions
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. headquarters in Shanghai.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. headquarters in Shanghai.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

The US is tightening restrictions on China’s access to chipmaking gear, according to two major equipment suppliers, underscoring Washington’s accelerating efforts to curb Beijing’s economic ambitions.

Washington had banned the sale of most gear that can fabricate chips of 10 nanometers or better to Chinese leader Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. without a license. Now it has expanded that barrier to equipment that can make anything more advanced than 14 nm, Lam Research Corp. Chief Executive Officer Tim Archer told analysts. The moratorium likely extends beyond SMIC and includes other fabrication plants run by contract chipmakers operating in China, including those by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.