Image credits: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP / Getty Images
The ability of Huawei – and China as a whole – to manufacture advanced chips amid US sanctions is once again being called into question as conflicting claims arise.
The United States cannot find any evidence that Chinese smartphone and telecommunications giant Huawei can produce smartphones with advanced semiconductors on a large scale, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Tuesday.
The claim comes two months after technology research firms suggested Huawei was poised to return to the 5G smartphone industry by the end of this year.
Reports were quickly reassured by Huawei’s launch of the Mate 60 Pro in late August. According to a teardown of the device by TechInsights Analysis, the model is powered by a 7nm system-on-chip (SoC) designed by Huawei’s chip division HiSilicon and produced by Chinese chipmaking giant SMIC .
“The discovery of a Kirin chip using SMIC’s 7nm (N+2) foundry process in the new Huawei Mate 60 Pro smartphone demonstrates the technical advancements that the Chinese semiconductor industry has been able to achieve without the tools of EUV lithography,” said Dan Hutcheson, vice president of TechInsights. in the report.
Nonetheless, Raimondo told a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives that “we have no evidence that they can make 7-nanometer particles at scale.”
In 2019, the U.S. government added Huawei to an entity list that barred it from accessing high-end chip manufacturing tools from the United States, citing national security concerns. The sanctions have decimated the Chinese giant’s cellphone business, forcing it to diversify its revenue streams into less familiar areas such as IoT and automobiles.
The future of China’s advanced chipmaking industry has been left even more uncertain after Oppo, another Chinese smartphone giant, dissolved its semiconductor unit as global smartphone shipments slowed.