June 19, 2024
Huawei says China-made chips should be used, even if inferior

Huawei’s rotating president, Xu Zijun, stressed the importance of using domestically produced chips, even if they lag behind foreign counterparts, UDN.com reports. The comment was made in reference to potentially poor yields on the company’s Kirin 9000s chip that powers Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro series of handsets. Despite China’s inferior domestic chips, “if we don’t use them, this gap will always be a gap, and lagging will always be lagging behind,” Zijun said.

Huawei’s latest flagship smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro, has attracted attention for its use of the Kirin 9000s SoC produced in mainland China. Most analysts believe the application processor is made by SMIC using its 2nd-Gen 7nm-class process technology, possibly called N+2, and supplied to Huawei in violation of US sanctions .

SMIC’s original 7nm-class node called N+1 has only been used to make smaller chips for cryptocurrency mining, so it is generally assumed that larger chips made using N+2 The yield may be less. Additionally, application processor performance may be lower than competing chips designed in the U.S.

While Huawei and SMIC have managed to circumvent US sanctions, some argue that the alleged 7nm process is still far behind TSMC, and the Kirin 9000s lags behind Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Despite these criticisms, Xu Zhijun stands by his belief that the use of these chips is essential for technological development and bridging the existing gap.

During his speech at the 2023 World Computing Conference, Xu Zhijun highlighted challenges in the computing industry. He pointed to China’s past struggles in producing some chips and the achievements of Chinese semiconductor production.

“Previously, we couldn’t even produce network card chips and RAID chips,” Xu Zijun said. “We couldn’t even produce power management chips for computer servers. So, we needed to return to the basics of the computing industry.”

Zhu Zijun made a clear comparison between the technical levels of domestic and foreign products. He compared foreign competitors to have doctorate-level expertise, while China’s domestic products are at primary school level. Despite this disparity, he stressed the importance of mainland China developing its own technological infrastructure to prevent vulnerabilities and security breaches from external sources.

The backdrop to this emphasis on domestic production is the ongoing US technology sanctions against China. More than 600 Chinese entities find themselves on the US government’s entity list, affecting a broad spectrum of the tech sector from design tools to chip products. Xu Zhijun warned of long-term challenges for mainland semiconductor manufacturing due to these sanctions and advised not to expect the US to ease its restrictions.


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