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Huawei's future chip designs at risk after ARM cuts ties with the company

By Cookie Monster - on 23 May 2019, 12:00am

Huawei's future chip designs at risk after ARM cuts ties with the company

The Huawei Kirin 980 chipset.

Huawei's mobile business suffered another devastating blow after U.K chip designer ARM suspended business with the company.

Based on internal documents obtained by BBC, ARM informed employees to stop business with Huawei. Memos were apparently sent out to inform employees to stop all engagements with Huawei and its subsidiaries, and explain the implications of the U.S export ban.

In addition, ARM employees are not allowed to “provide support, delivery technology (whether software, code, or other updates), engage in technical discussions or otherwise discuss technical matters with Huawei, HiSilicon or any of the other named entities”.  ARM and Huawei responded with the following statements: 

“ARM is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government,” says an ARM spokesperson in a statement to The Verge.

“We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognize the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions,” says a Huawei spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world.”

Since ARM's chip architecture designs contain "U.S origin technology" and Huawei pays a license to use them, it can no longer use ARM designs for future Kirin processors. Nonetheless, Huawei is free to continue using and manufacturing existing Kirin processors

"ARM is the foundation of Huawei’s smartphone chip designs, so this is an insurmountable obstacle for Huawei,” said Geoff Blaber, from CCS Insight. 

"That said, with an abundance of companies in Huawei’s supply chain already having taken action to comply with the US order, Huawei’s ability to operate was already severely affected.”

Huawei has been using its own Kirin processors for the P and Mate flagship phones as a way to differentiate its phones from the rest of the Android camp. Without access to ARM designs, other mobile processors and network components, Huawei's future smartphones will be seen as inferior to its Android counterparts and this will severely cripple its goal to be the top phone maker in 2020.

Source: BBC via The Verge

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