UK chip overlord ARM reportedly terminates relationship with Huawei


Huawei was today dealt a possible death blow in the trade war against the US. UK-based Japan-owned chip designer ARM has reportedly told its employees to cease contracts, support and engagements with Huawei, according to a report by the BBC.

The news comes courtesy of an internal memo sent to staff.

The Cambridge-based firm is behind many of the world’s chip designs, owning the ARM architecture and instruction sets which informs how smartphone processor cores’ interact with the information they’re served.

Notably, this affects Huawei’s own chipmaker HiSilicon, which uses these ARM designs in its processors.

Even though ARM is a non-US firm, it notes that the technology it employs is of a “US origin”.

It’s a huge blow to Huawei, and likely more detrimental than Google revoking its Android license. While the company has an alternative OS its pioneering, it’s not clear how HiSilicon can get around not using ARM designs.

While the report does note the company’s upcoming Kirin 985 chipset is all but ready for production and won’t be affected, future chips may not be allowed to use ARM technology.

If the Trump administration-issued ban doesn’t break, it’s likely that Huawei will have to look elsewhere for a chipmaker. The fate of its own chipmaking subsidiary is now hanging in the balance.

Feature image: the Huawei Mate 7, by Memeburn

Andy Walker, former editor


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.