US vs China: United States pressure forces Huawei to stop producing Kirin SoC chipsets on September 15
We had reported on May 26th, 2020 about how the United States ban was hurting Huawei and its smartphone goals. At that time we had predicted that Huawei could have to abandon Kirin SoC chips that power its flagship Mate series Android smartphones. And we were right! Huawei will stop making its flagship Kirin chipsets from 15th September 2020 as it could not find a suitable collaborator for making the chips.
According to the financial magazine, Caixin, the US ban on Huawei has forced most chip manufacturers like TSMC to abandon Huawei or risk getting banned themselves. This pressure made it impossible for Huawei’s home-brewed chip manufacturing company HiSilicon to keep churning out chips. The US ban also resulted in Huawei deferring the launch of its flagship Mate 40 smartphone. All this has resulted in Huawei and HiSilicon totally abandoning their Kirin SoC project.
“From Sept. 15 onward, our flagship Kirin processors cannot be produced,” Huawei official told Caixin. “Our AI-powered chips also cannot be processed. This is a huge loss for us.”
The United States vs China fight is forcing many governments to stop dealing with Huawei, ZTE, etc. The US administration says that all data that is gathered by Huawei and other Chinese companies are being handed over to the Chinese government. Huawei vehemently denies it spies for China but there is long-standing Chinese legislation that mandates all Chinese companies to share their user data with the government.
Why did Huawei and HiSilcon ditch Kirin SoC?
Kirin chips are manufactured by a company called HiSilicon based in Shenzhen and Guangdong in China. HiSilicon is fully owned by Huawei but manufactures chip under licensing agreements with different chip manufacturers based around the world. However, most manufacturers cater to the U.S. market and the United States has explicitly warned that companies exporting tech to Huawei will be banned. Also, President Trump has been pressurizing domestic chip manufacturers to shift their manufacturing back to the U.S. This was recently included in the US Department of Commerce’s new licensing restrictions which needs the U.S. based chip manufacturers to obtain a license if they trade Huawei-designed chipsets as well as those designs with the company.
This has stopped the TSMC from assembling Kirin chips for HiSilicon and in effect for Huawei and Honor Android smartphones. This has forced both the firms to look beyond their own Kirin chips to power their Android smartphones. They were in talks with MediaTek and UNISOC to use their chips to power future Huawei and Honor Android smartphones but both have refused to collaborate.
Huawei can’t manufacture Kirin SoCs because its components are licensed from different manufacturers. With these manufacturers refusing to collaborate, Huawei is left no choice other than abandon making Kirin SoCs completely.