UK-based chipmaker ARM tells staff to stop working with Huawei

UK-based chipmaker ARM tells staff to stop working with Huawei

UK-based chipmaker ARM tells staff to stop working with Huawei

The UK-based chipmaker ARM has reportedly told its staff to suspend all business with Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, with internal company memos allegedly stating that its designs contain “US origin technology”, suggesting that the Trump administration’s business ban is impacting non-US companies.  

In documents that have been uncovered by the BBC, ARM staff have been told to halt “all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei or its subsidiaries, a move which will cripple the company. Huawei can utilise open source operating systems on their future technologies, but their smartphone empire relies entirely on ARM-based silicon. 

HiSilicon, the creator of the Kirin series of SoCs that Huawei utilises, is a Huawei subsidiary, which means that they may soon lose ARM’s support. This will prevent the company from creating new ARM-based chip designs, something which Huawei is unlikely to be prepared for. Analysts have called this an “insurmountable” blow to Huawei’s business.     

ARM is not a manufacturer of processors, but their CPU IP currently sits at the core of most mobile devices, holding a dominant market share within the smartphone and tablet markets. Creating smartphones without ARM’s IP is practically impossible, making ARM’s suspended business ties with Huawei devastating. 

In a statement to the BBC, ARM stated that they were “complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government”, while Huawei refused to comment.  

UK-based chipmaker ARM tells staff to stop working with Huawei  

Whether or not ARM’s actions are a short term or long term remains to be seen, but if ARM chips can be no longer used in Huawei devices, the company’s smartphone ambitions are effectively finished. The long and short of the situation is that Huawei isn’t ready to replace the ARM-based processors used by their handsets. Even devices outside of the mobile phone market utilise ARM IP, placing Huawei in an incredibly dangerous situation. 

While HiSilicon and Huawei can continue manufacturing their existing ARM-based designs, both companies will not be able to produce new designs that are based on ARM’s IP. It won’t be easy for Huawei to replace these ARM-based components with in-house designs. 

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