Friday, May 24, 2024

[News] Rumored Sharp Drop in H100 Server Black Market Prices in China Raises Concerns Over Market Stability | TrendForce Insights

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The recent rapid downturn in the black market prices of AI servers equipped with NVIDIA’s highest-tier AI chip, the H100, in China, has attracted attention, as per a report from Economic Daily News. This fluctuation, triggered by US sanctions, has reportedly prompted concerns about its impact on overall supply and demand dynamics, and whether it will further squeeze normal market mechanisms.

Industry sources cited by the same report have revealed that the prices of AI servers equipped with the H100 chip have recently plummeted on the Chinese black market. This is primarily due to the imminent launch of NVIDIA’s next-generation high-end AI chip, the H200. With the transition between old and new products, scalpers who previously hoarded H100 chips to drive up prices are now offloading their large inventories.

As per a report from Reuters, despite the US expanding its ban on AI technology-related exports to China last year, some dealers are still taking risks. There is still trading of H100 chips in the Huaqiangbei electronics market in northern Shenzhen, but it has all gone underground. The chips are said to be mainly imported into China through purchasing agents or shell companies set up overseas, making them accessible to Chinese universities, research institutions, and even companies through special dealer channels.

Due to the US ban, both the H100 chip and AI servers equipped with it can only be traded on the black market, not openly. Scalpers have significantly inflated prices, with servers featuring the H100 chip reaching over CNY 3 million (over USD 420,000) in China, compared to the official price of USD 280,000 to USD 300,000, resulting in profits of over 10% for some middlemen after deducting logistics and tariffs.

With the H200 set to launch in the second quarter, the H100 will become the “previous generation” product. Consequently, middlemen who had hoarded H100 chips are eager to sell their inventory, leading to a rapid correction in prices.

Recently, servers with the H100 chip on the China black market have dropped to around CNY 2.7 to 2.8 million, with spot prices in Hong Kong falling to around CNY 2.6 million, representing a decline of over 10%.

According to a previous report from Reuters, in response to Chinese universities and research institutions reportedly acquired high-end AI chips from NVIDIA through distributors, a NVIDIA spokesperson stated that the report does not imply that NVIDIA or any of its partners violated export control regulations, and the proportion of these products in global sales is negligible. Nvidia complies with U.S. regulatory standards.

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(Photo credit: NVIDIA)

Please note that this article cites information from Economic Daily News and Reuters.