The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) has launched another of its perennial campaigns to raise the threshold for shipping state-of-the-art computers to foreign customers.
The industry organization, which represents PC makers and other companies comprising the nation's high-tech sector, today called for an overhaul of new, more liberal regulations approved just last year by the Clinton Administration. ITI said existing restrictions threaten the health of U.S. computer makers, because the pace of technological innovation is outstripping the ability of regulators to update export controls governing the sale of computers to 154 nations.
Oliver Smoot, ITI executive vice president, told EBN at an industry briefing today in Washington, D.C., that it takes several years to convince government authorities to raise export control limits that regulate the sale of computing products. "It's discouraging that it takes so long to get the government to relax export control criteria that new regulations are obsolete by the time they are published," Smoot said.
The government last year raised the computer performance levels for Tier II countries -- which includes most of Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and many Asian nations -- to 20,000 million theoretical operations a second (MTOPS). The criteria for Tier III countries -- those such as China, Russia, and Israel, whose access to U.S. technology is deemed to constitute a greater risk to national security -- was raised to 12,300 MTOPS for civilian users.
Any computers above these limits require U.S. companies to seek a costly and time consuming export license. Smoot said this puts American industry at a severe competitive disadvantage compared with foreign rivals, whose governments don't subject them to such restrictions.
Dan Hoydish, director of government affairs for Unisys Corp., Blue Bell, Pa., said for example that four-processor servers powered by the Itanium chips Intel Corp. will introduce later this year will generate 23,731 MTOPS, exceeding the control limits for both Tier II and III countries. And its successor, the McKinley, which Intel will ship in 2001, will reach 35,598 MTOPS in a four-processor server, he said.
Hoydish added that at least five foreign computer companies -- Fujitsu, Groupe Bull, Hitachi, NEC, and Siemens -- already have announced plans to ship servers with multiple Itanium processors next year.