The Trump administration is sticking one more nail in the coffin of Huawei smartphones: As early as this week, Washington enacted a rule preventing all companies from selling semiconductors to the Chinese when they use American technology.

The catch for Huawei is that while there are some foreign companies that are powerful in their fields – Samsung and SK Hynix for DRAM production, TSMC and Samsung for chip burn fineness, etc. – Uncle Sam is the absolute king of semiconductors. Visibly, with champions unmatched elsewhere – Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Apple, Nvidia, etc. – but also, invisibly, in the design and manufacture of chips. From Cadence Design Systems to Applied Materials, there are many American champions unknown to the general public who are at the heart of chip production.

And to Huawei’s greatest misfortune, these champions are in all the main “fabs” around the world, the very ones Huawei would need to produce its chips. The decision of the US government should “ prevent him from obtaining semiconductors “According to an analyst from the bank Credit Suisse. And another Gavekal Research analyst added that this is a ” death sentence ”Not only for its smartphones, but also for its telecom equipment. A drama for the world number one in the sector who is, as we know, dependent on American technologies.

Economic response and technological acceleration

As threatened as it is, Huawei is not yet dead. On the one hand, because the technological champion of the Middle Empire is supported by his government and the latter should take its response a step further. This is a fight between two states that are making blow for blow – rising customs barriers, blacklists, etc. Where the United States also has a lot to lose.

Second, not only is Huawei a juggernaut that could benefit from government aid to stay afloat, it is above all an intelligence company that has been under fire for some time now. Understand that management has already implemented many B plans, whether in software development or in hardware. On the software side, in addition to strengthening HMS and the App Gallery, Huawei is working hard on a “fork” of Android. As for hardware, the biggest project, Huawei engineers are in the process of developing RISC V chips (far from being able to compete with ARM for the time being) but also in the acquisition phase of industrial tools.

Huawei will, however, have to start from very (very) far, since the production unit without American technologies which could be operational by the end of the year would only burn in 45 nm. Compared to the 5 nm of TSMCs and other Samsungs, this seems laughable, but China could catch up a large part of its delay in a few years … Thanks in particular to SMIC, which aims to burn in 14 nm within 24 months. In attempting to halt Huawei’s advance in 5G outright, the Trump administration may have delivered the final blow that would force the Chinese to become 100% technologically independent from the Americans. With Huawei as a great champion.

Source : Ars Technica

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