The idea that SMIC, China’s largest semiconductor maker, could help Huawei escape the embargo imposed by the US Commerce Department. But SMIC is still under the influence of the ban and was not negatively affected.
According to the Phone Arena, The US has changed the export rules so that chip processors using US technology cannot sell components to Huawei. In particular, this ban takes effect on both processors designed and owned by Huawei itself. Despite finding ways to fix the issue of not being able to use the Android operating system due to Google stripping the license, the chip ban has caused heavy damage to Huawei.
In 2020, Huawei launched the Kirin 9000 chip manufactured on its first 5 nm process along with the high-end Mate 40 smartphone line. But most of those chips were stockpiled by Huawei before the ban. effect and has been gradually depleted.
Under the besieged situation, Huawei transferred some of its HiSilicon Kirin chip designs to SMIC for production. However, due to technology limitations, SMIC can only provide chips using 14 nm and 28 nm processes. The lower the number of processes, the lower the number of processes that allows Huawei to build powerful and energy efficient processors.
Also in 2020, before the new export rule comes into effect, Huawei hired SMIC to produce Kirin 710A chips for mid-range devices. With the most modern 14 nm process the company has, SMIC has made components for Huawei.
So, with the Kirin 9000 based on the 5 nm process, SMIC cannot help Huawei produce and bypass the US ban. In addition, due to some advanced chip manufacturing equipment originating from the US, SMIC was affected and prevented from supplying 14 nm and 28 nm chips to Huawei, The Wall Street Journal stressed.
SMIC’s 14 nm and 28 nm chip sales to Huawei
As a result, sales of SMIC chips sold to Huawei fell from 14.6% in the third quarter to 5% in the fourth quarter of 2020. The change to the export rule that went into effect in mid-September 2020 explains the increased sales in the first 10 weeks of the third quarter and dropped sharply in the fourth quarter.
In December 2020, SMIC was put on the list of banned access to US-made technology by the Trump administration and had to apply for a license to continue circulating. Processors manufactured by SMIC using the 10 nm process or less will face no US approval. Previously, the company had expected to reach 7 nm and 10 nm lines, but the US ban stopped them.
The US Department of Commerce said the reason for this decision was to “prevent critical technology from supporting the Chinese government’s military-civilian synthesis efforts”. Former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated the following when the SMIC was announced as an embargo: “We do not allow modern American technology to help build an army for an increasingly warlike enemy. Thanks to SMIC’s relationship with the military industrial organization, China has actively adopted the mission.” State-led aggregation of military forces and subsidies.
SMIC is a perfect illustration of the risks of China using US technology to aid in its military modernization. The inclusion of SMICs on the list of entities is a necessary measure to ensure that China cannot take advantage of US technology to raise the level of local technology to support activities that cause military destabilization “.
Ngoc Diep (According to Phone Arena)