While under US sanctions, where did Huawei get the advanced chips for its latest Mate 60 Pro smartphone?

1. SMIC, China’s largest chip maker, manufactured the chip for Huawei

This is the most plausible explanation, although both Huawei and Semiconductor International Manufacturing Corp (SMIC) declined to provide details. Based on tests conducted on the smartphone, Chinese benchmarking site AnTuTu has identified the central processing unit (CPU) in the Mate 60 Pro as the Kirin 9000s from Huawei’s chipset design unit. Hisilicon.

SMIC used existing equipment and applied the second generation 7nm process, known as the N+2 node, to manufacture the Kirin 9000s processor capable of supporting Huawei’s 5G networks, research firm TechInsights said in a note on its WeChat account. The California-based research company said it would provide more details about the phone’s connection next week.

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If this is the case, it would represent a “breakthrough” for China’s semiconductor industry and a big win for Huawei’s smartphone business.

However, under US sanctions, SMIC was not supposed to be able to make advanced chips for Huawei.

2. Huawei produced the chip using its own supply chain network

This is another possibility, which comes after a report by Bloomberg, citing the Washington-based Semiconductor Industry Association, said that the Chinese telecom giant is building a secret supply chain for the chip industry by enlisting existing foundries to help it avoid US export controls. In this case, the chip inside the Mate 60 shows how Huawei has achieved a major breakthrough.

This is an unlikely scenario, but it fits the Chinese nationalist narrative that Huawei, after bearing the bullet for years under US sanctions, has finally defeated US restrictions.

The Huawei Mate 60 Pro uses a Kirin 9000s processor. Photo: Bulletin

3. Huawei used its own stock of chips for the new phone

This explanation means that the chips in Huawei’s new phone are from stock, and were manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) before September 2020, when the US doubled sanctions to impose a blanket ban on Huawei and all its subsidiaries from accessing advanced technology. Chips. TSMC relies on US core technology to produce silicon chips and was therefore required to comply with the sanctions rule.

Huawei is known to have been stockpiling chips from its HiSilicon unit before TSMC cut ties to comply with US sanctions, and some analysts believe it may have used these old chips in the new phone, with some repackaging and modifications.

If this scenario is true, it would mean that Huawei is still deprived of advanced chips under US sanctions.

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