ARM Cuts Off Huawei in Devastating Move

Credit: Thaisucculents / ShutterstockCredit: Thaisucculents / ShutterstockThere’s a difference between setbacks and catastrophes. Huawei losing Google, Intel, and Qualcomm as suppliers is a setback. ARM reportedly cutting ties with the company, on the other hand, could be a bona fide catastrophe.

The BBC today reported that ARM told employees to suspend "all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei because of the company’s addition to a blacklist by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It might seem weird for a Japanese-owned company based in the UK to cut ties with a Chinese firm because of U.S. trade restrictions. But ARM said its products rely on tech from the U.S., so it has to abide by its regulations.

ARM didn’t send a new memo in response to the 90-day temporary license the U.S. issued to let Huawei suppliers do business with the company. Instead, ARM warned its employees not to even talk to their counterparts at Huawei unofficially.

Huawei remained hopeful as more and more American companies, ya know, planned to follow U.S. law by no longer working with it. Components? Huawei’s said to have three months’ worth. Operating systems? Huawei’s covered.

But losing ARM (no word on LEG) effectively scuttles Huawei’s plans to design its own chips, because those processors would almost certainly rely on ARM designs, just like pretty much every smartphone and tablet on the market.

China’s semiconductor industry simply isn’t prepared to design and manufacture chips that aren’t based on American tech. Huawei would have to work a miracle to be unaffected by losing the ability to build on top of ARM’s foundation.

With the way things are going, though, we wouldn’t be as surprised as we should be if a report claimed Huawei had been working on wholly original chip designs for a while. This should be a catastrophe; let’s see if Huawei can avert it.

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  • Math Geek
    china is really good at cloning design of products from all over the world. let's see if they can clone the internal parts as well. that's really what will determine how this effects them.

    they don't need to design a new chip, all they have to do is steal the design from what they already have and start pumping them out. sure they'll probably be junk and only last 6 months. but then again isn't that how long most of the stuff they make lasts anyway?? a few billion people in the asian market are used to having to chose from low quality, stolen design tech products from china, why is this any different? ;)
  • MrN1ce9uy
    Actually searching Huawei online, they are much larger than I had previously thought. They overtook Apple in 2018 as the second-largest smartphone maker behind Samsung. They also rank 72nd in the Fortune Global 500 and are the current largest telecommunications equipment supplier in the world.
  • thegriff
    Stealing and using Intellectual property of other countries is what the Chinese do so they will just use it anyway.