Apple has paused plans to use memory chips manufactured by Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YTMC), the largest memory chip maker in China, after US trade sanctions targeted the company, according to reports.
Nikkei Asia reported on Monday that Apple would abandon plans to make the state-owned chip maker one of the NAND flash memory chip suppliers for iPhones this year. The news, if confirmed, would come as a blow to YTMC, which had already completed the verification process required for Apple to use its tech in iPhones.
The Bureau of Industry and Security, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced new export controls for China’s advanced semiconductor industry this month. Among the controls were restrictions on the involvement of “U.S. persons” in developing CHinese chip facilities and on equipment and materials sent to Chinese wafer fabs that produce NAND memory chips with 128 layers or more.
YMTC’s new chip has 232 memory cell layers, and the company was among the 31 CHinese organizations added to Washington D.C.’s Unverified List.
According to reports Apple had considered buying up to 40% of all chips needed for its iPhones from YMTC, but has come under heavy political pressure. Marco Rubio, Republican vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Apple would face intense scrutiny from the federal government if it used YMTC memory chips.
The Biden administration’s export controls on China are aimed at slowing the technology and military advances of the country, by cutting it off from certain semiconductor chips made anywhere in the world with U.S. equipment.
Apple has been attempting to move more of its manufacturing outside of China, and last week it was rumored the production of the Apple macbook would move out of the country for the first time.