Huawei – and China’s – ability to produce advanced chips amid US sanctions has again come into question as conflicting claims emerge.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Tuesday that the US had found no evidence that Chinese smartphone and telecommunications company Huawei could manufacture smartphones with advanced semiconductors.
The claim comes two months after tech research firms suggested that Huawei is poised to enter the 5G smartphone industry later this year.
The reports were soon confirmed as Huawei launched the Mate 60 Pro in late August. According to an analysis by TechInsights, the model is powered by a 7nm system-on-chip (SoC) and is designed by Huawei’s chip division HiSilicon and manufactured by China’s chipmaking giant SMIC.
“Finding a Kirin chip using SMIC’s 7nm (N+2) foundry process in the new Huawei Mate 60 Pro smartphone demonstrates the technological advancements China’s semiconductor industry has made without EUV lithography tools,” TechInsights vice president Dan Hutcheson said in the report.
Even so, Raimondo said during a US House hearing, “We have no evidence that they can build at the seven-nanometer scale.”
In 2019, the US government added Huawei to an entity list that banned access to high-end chipmaking tools from the US, citing national security concerns. The restrictions have decimated the Chinese behemoth’s handset business, forcing it to diversify revenue streams into less familiar areas such as IoT and automotive.
The future of China’s advanced chipmaking industry has been thrown into uncertainty as another Chinese smartphone company, Oppo, closed its semiconductor unit as global smartphone shipments slowed.