Huawei failed to address the next generation of Kirin 1000 (5nm) chipsets during its September 3 keynote. The firm has reportedly asked TSMC to produce as many chips as possible before the deadline of September 14, 2020. The Kirin 1000 could be launched on the future Mate 40, but the future of Kirin smartphones remains dotted.
One would have thought that Huawei is taking advantage of its keynote, on September 3, 2020, to talk about its new generation of chips for smartphones. Including the Kirin 1000, a SoC engraved in 5 nm whose arrival had been teased for several months. But that was before the last turn of the screw by the American administration. The US Department of Commerce has indeed changed its rules to prohibit Huawei from sourcing from the best founders – who have no other choice but to comply or risk losing access to advanced American machines.
Huawei reportedly doubts TSMC's ability to deliver necessary volumes before it is too late
This is the case with industry leader TSMC, with which Huawei and its silicon division HiSilicon had a close relationship. The latter has indeed announced that it will no longer be able to deliver anything to Huawei or its subsidiaries after September 14, threatening the future of the group's mobile division. The alternatives truly independent of US technologies and mastering the same fineness of engraving as that offered by TSMC indeed simply do not exist. The Chinese founder SMIC, which already manufactured some entry-level Kirin chips, only offers 14 nm engraving to date.
This is almost three times the size of the nodes Huawei had access to at TSMC. However, in the confusion following the new US sanctions, it seems that Huawei has obtained from TSMC to do the necessary to build up a stock of Kirin 1000 chips engraved in 5 nm. However, doubts remain about the inventory needed to launch it on a future smartphone. To believe a rumor taken up by Android Headlines, Huawei would thus have only 15 million units in stock.
To give you an idea of how low this volume is, Huawei had managed to sell 12 million Mate 30s in the first three months of marketing alone. With so few chips, the Kirin 1000 could still launch willy-nilly on the Mate 40. Or maybe just one of its variants. A priori, and given the hostile context of the United States, it could be the last high-end Kirin chipset on a Huawei smartphone for a very long time.
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The future of Huawei smartphones thus hangs on two hopes: on the one hand, an improvement in domestic chip production technologies, and on the other, a relaxation of US sanctions. Because Huawei could well use chips from other founders if it had permission. Qualcomm has been trying to convince the US administration for several months to obtain the right to deliver its Snapdragon chips to Huawei. For now, the company only uses the chips from the American foundry on a handful of entry-level smartphones.
Source: Android Headlines