The CEO of Chinese GPU (graphics processing unit) maker Moore Threads, Zhang Jianzhong, sent an open letter to staff on Monday, stating that the company would begin layoffs within a week, according to a report by local media outlet Icsmart. In the letter, which comes just weeks after the company was added to the US government’s restricted Entity List, Zhang also said “There are no darkest hours for Chinese GPU makers, only boundless possibilities.”
Why it matters: On Oct. 17, the US government implemented a series of new restrictions, limiting the export of more advanced AI chips and semiconductor equipment to China. As one of 13 Chinese companies now added to the Entity List, Moore Threads and its subsidiaries have been substantially impacted by the policy.
Details: In his letter, Zhang directly blamed the impact of US sanctions on Moore Threads’ personnel cuts. The company will now undergo a restructuring, with plans to establish two new divisions: an AI strategy group and a metaverse computing strategy group.
- The exact number of employees facing layoffs at Moore Threads has not been disclosed, and the size of the company’s total workforce before the job cuts remains unknown. However, the company’s LinkedIn page shows a range of 500 to 1,000 employees.
- In the open letter, Zhang claimed that the entire domestic GPU and AI chip industry has been severely impacted by the new limits, but that nothing could deter the company’s determination to move forward. Moore Threads will continue to build high-quality GPUs in China at the juncture between challenges and opportunities, he stated.
- To address the challenges brought by the external environment and policy changes, Zhang announced a three-year plan. The company will focus on four key areas: accelerating independent research and innovation, refining high-quality products, promoting application implementation, and building efficient teams.
- On Oct. 31, the spokesperson for the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Zhang Xin, stated that the US measures violate market economic principles and international trade rules, exacerbating fragmentation and risks in the global semiconductor supply chain.
Context: Established by Zhang, the former global vice-president of Nvidia and general manager of Nvidia China, in October 2020, Moore Threads is a Chinese technology company specializing in graphics processing unit design. The firm has developed two consumer-grade cards for China’s domestic gaming segment, including the MTT S80 and the MTT S70.
- Chinese retailers are currently offering promotions for the annual 11.11 Singles’ Day shopping festival. Among these deals, the MTT S80 and MTT S70 GPUs are available at their lowest prices ever. The MTT S80 has been reduced from RMB 2,999 ($412) to RMB 1,199 ($165), while the company has cut the original price of the MTT S70 from RMB 2,499 ($343) to RMB 899 ($124).