The US government is said to be considering additional export controls on shipments of computer chip technology to China, with a focus on technologies used in artificial intelligence (AI) applications.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which cited sources close to the discussions, the US Commerce Department is preparing to block chips made by the likes of Nvidia, Micron and AMD as early as next month.
Among the technologies said to be impacted by the new measures is Nvidia's A800 chip, which was developed by the company as a less-powerful product in direct response to an earlier ban on shipments of the most advanced hi-tech chips. This would now fall within expanded rules and require a special export license if the proposed moves go ahead.
The aim of the new restrictions would be to further handicap China's development of advanced technologies, as the country had limited capacity to produce its own hi-tech semiconductors.
Washington has argued this is essential to the US' national security and has urged its key allies to follow suit, including Japan and the Netherlands, which are also major exporters of chips to China.
However, industry groups have expressed concern about this aggressive approach. Suzanne Clark, president of the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a speech last month: "If we treat every economic interaction as a risk, we will lose focus on those that truly pose a threat.”
Nvidia's chief executive Jensen Huang has also warned that further bans would have a detrimental effect on the US tech sector. Currently, his company earns around 20 percent of its global revenue from China.
The New York Times noted that the proposed moves raise the prospect of further intensifying the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing. It reported that last month, the Chinese government blocked domestic companies that handle critical information from buying chips made by Micron, warning of cybersecurity problems with the products.