Huawei officially confirmed that the Mate 40 flagship will be the last smartphone with its high-end Kirin processors. Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, made the announcement at the 2020 Summit of the China Information Technology Association. Yu said the mass production of Kirin chips will be halted after September 15. That is when the US ban on Huawei will permanently take effect.
Like Apple, Huawei designs its own chipsets in-house but the mobile processors are manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, better known as TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry. TSMC, a Taiwan-based company, uses equipments sourced from the US. By that logic, TSMC needs to get permission from the Trump administration to manufacture Kirin chips for Huawei.
TSMC is expected to ship all the orders of the Kirin 1020 that will power the Mate 40 by September 14. With the Huawei Mate 40 now being the last phone to feature a Kirin chipset, Huawei has left with the only option to source processors from either Qualcomm or MediaTek. The Wall Street Journal said Qualcomm is hard at lobbying the US government to remove restrictions and let the San Diego-based chipset giant sell Snapdragon processors to Huawei. If Qualcomm manages to supply mobile processors to Huawei, it would be a big win for the company over MediaTek and Samsung.
Huawei, the world’s top smartphone maker, can also reply on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), which is China’s biggest contract chip manufacturer. However, SMIC’s SMIC’s foundries can produce 14nm chips. That’s two-generation behind TSMC, which already manufacturers 7nm chipsets and will soon switch to 5nm processors.
The Trump administration has had a big impact on Huawei’s smartphone business. In markets like India and Europe, Huawei’s presence has been significantly reduced due to the lack of Google services on its phones. With Huawei now unable to use its own Kirin chipset in its phones is another blow to the Chinese tech giant. It remains to be seen how Huawei progresses without access to its Kirin chipsets in future smartphones.
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