ARM's break with Huawei leaves the Chinese company limbless

ARM's break with Huawei leaves the Chinese company limbless

Huawei's having a rough week. Target of sanctions imposed by the U.S. government, the company saw this week suppliers such as Google, Intel, Qualcomm and Microsoft cut business relations, putting in doubt the future of their business. But now another company has been forced into the boycott: ARM, which provides key technology used in processors produced by Huawei and its subsidiary, HiSilicon.

For those who do not know, ARM is a British company that develops and licenses the ARM architecture, used in processors of virtually all smartphones in the market. Yes, all: Qualcomm, Broadcomm, Apple, Samsung, MediaTek, Unisoc, Nvidia and Huawei themselves use the ARM architecture as the foundation for their processors.

And although ARM has been an English company since its inception, the ARM architecture contains "U.S.-origin technology," which is covered by the terms of the sanctions imposed by the US government. As a result, the company was forced to discontinue "support, technology delivery (whether code, software or other updates) and technical discussions" with Huawei, HiSilicon and any other related companies.

Kirin 980 3
Kirin 980 processor contains ARM technology / © Huawei

When Qualcomm broke off the relationship with Huawei, many pointed to the fact that Huawei would not be such an essential supplier, as Huawei produces its own chips (the Kirin family) and modems (the Balong family). But without the support of ARM, the future of these products is threatened.

Huawei has an "architecture license" from ARM, meaning it can modify and extend the architecture to continue developing its own processors, but without technical support from the UK company and licenses for future versions of the architecture, everything becomes much more difficult.

In a statement to The Verge, Huawei had this to say about the situation:

"We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognize the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions. 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."

Huawei is currently the second largest smartphone manufacturer on the planet, behind only Samsung and ahead of Apple. But without an operating system (Android) and processors (ARM), this line of business is seriously threatened.

Will Huawei be able to survive the sanctions and remain in the smartphone market? Share your opinion in the comments below.

Source: BBC

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  • CJ Brown May 25, 2019 Link to comment

    Huawei / Honor is eventually going to have to cooperate like ZTE last year (it may take longer for them to realize this). Again, China violates human rights & intellectual property - 2 issues more important to me vs whatever tariff % they're paying for American goods!