Huawei’s Progress in Developing Self-Sufficient Chip Network
Huawei’s recent smartphone advancements, including the 7nm 5G processor, have been impressive. However, the company has been working on something even more significant to circumvent the US import ban. According to a recent investigation by Bloomberg, a Shenzhen city government investment fund established in 2019 has been assisting Huawei in building “a self-sufficient chip network.”
This network would provide the tech giant with access to key enterprises involved in developing lithography machines, with SiCarrier’s three subsidiaries playing a crucial role. Importing lithography, especially high-end extreme ultraviolet technology, is currently restricted by US, Netherlands, and Japan sanctions. Huawei has reportedly transferred around a dozen patents to SiCarrier and allowed the company’s elite engineers to work directly on its sites, indicating a close symbiotic relationship between the two firms.
According to Bloomberg’s source, Huawei has recruited several former employees of Dutch lithography specialist ASML to work on this project. The result thus far is the 7nm HiSilicon Kirin 9000S processor, manufactured locally by SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation). This processor is said to be approximately five years behind the leading competition, such as Apple Silicon’s 3nm process, rather than the eight-year gap intended by the Biden administration’s export ban.
Huawei’s Mate 60, Mate 60 Pro, Mate 60 Pro+, and Mate X5 foldable devices all feature the HiSilicon chip, as well as other Chinese components like display panels from BOE, camera modules from OFILM, and batteries from Sunwoda. Establishing its own network of local enterprises would allow Huawei to rely less on imported components and potentially position itself as a leader in the Chinese chip industry, especially in the era of electric vehicles and AI, where chip demand is high. However, Huawei has denied receiving government assistance to achieve this goal.
With Huawei’s apparent progress and China’s significant investment in its chip industry, the US government will have to step up its efforts to compete.