Despite the “ban” of Huawei and of many other Chinese companies wanted by the US administration, the company hopes to become an increasingly protagonist again. The company has in fact built a network of partner companies and businesses that will allow produce chips in a completely self-sufficient manner, no longer relying on resources available on Western markets.
To the Dutch ASML, which produces equipment for extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) needed to produce the most advanced and miniaturized chips, it has been banned from exporting its technology to China. This and other measures put Huawei in a situation where it was complicated to make devices that could compete globally.
Huawei demonstrates that it has practically overcome US sanctions
Proven proof of the futility of the Stars and Stripes sanctions came recently with the release of sales data for the Huawei Mate 60 Pro 5G smartphones. The volume of specimens marketed by the company founded by Ren Zhengfei has returned to its highest levels and the SoC designed by the Chinese SMIC however, it proved powerful and effective. And this despite the fact that SMIC’s construction process stands, at best, at 7 nm while TSMC and Samsung, for example, are already at 3 nm (TSMC recently presented 2 nm chips).
The dimension of the production node is crucial because it affects the number of transistors inside a chip: the more miniaturized the process, the higher the number of transistors and the more powerful or efficient the chip is.
It SoC SMIC Kirin 9000S that equips the Mate 60 is considered by some to be 5 years behind competing solutions. That’s not the point. It is said that the US intended to set Chinese technology back 8 years; the leap forward recently achieved can therefore be considered as a recovery of three years, in a short period of time.
The close link with SMIC and other local producers
According to the assessments of some experts, SMIC would already be able to produce 5nm chips using it DUV equipment (deep ultraviolet), therefore without going as far as using EUV systems. If it were possible to integrate a nanoimprint lithographic technology (NIL), like the one announced by Canon in October 2023, SMIC could be capable of reaching the 2 nm process node.
The supply chain for other components is already being finalized and Huawei plans to double the number of sales of smartphones during 2024. At this point, therefore, a company severely penalized by US economic sanctions could demonstrate that it can return to being a protagonist, moreover in a very short time window if we consider the scope and severity of the overseas measures.
Huawei also collaborates closely with SiCarrier, a manufacturer specialized in the design and production of lithographic machines: just think that the staff of the two companies can work directly on the other company’s sites. The Chinese company then hired former ASML employees.