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Intel can't sell chips to China because the US is afraid of nukes

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The US and China are like two neighbors who annoy each other with loud music after 11pm, but can't bring themselves to discuss the problem properly. The latest passive-aggressive broadside between the pair sees the US blocking Intel from being able to sell its Xeon Phi chips to China to upgrade the latter's Tianhe-2 supercomputer. BBC News is reporting that the US Department of Commerce shot down the move because of a concern that the hardware would be used to conduct "nuclear explosive activities."

The odd-sounding phrase comes from US' export regulations, which govern when a product can't be sold to a foreign power. The phrasing here requires that officials have "more than positive knowledge" that the chips would be used, directly or indirectly, to design, test or construct a nuclear device. There's no word if there's any tangible proof that the supercomputer, the fastest in the world, has actually been used for that practice, but Intel can't do much but comply. On the upside, the chipmaker won't feel too out of pocket since it's just been given the contract to build a 180 petaflops supercomputer for the Argonne National Laboratory.

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