However, the company appears to be quietly working on a more important project to circumvent the US import ban. A recent survey of Bloomberg It reveals that the Shenzhen City Government Investment Fund set up in 2019 helped Huawei build an independent network chip.
This network will give Huawei access to companies, in particular the three subsidiaries of a company known as SiCarrier, which play a crucial role in the development of lithography machines. Lithography, especially high-tech UV lithography, is usually imported to China. However, it is currently subject to sanctions from the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan. Huawei has reportedly transferred about a dozen patents to SiCarrier and allowed SiCarrier’s senior engineers to work directly at its facilities, suggesting a mutually beneficial relationship between the two companies.
According to a Bloomberg source, Huawei has hired several former employees of ASML, a Dutch lithography company, to contribute to this pioneering project. The result so far is the 7nm HiSilicon Kirin 9000S processor from SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International), which is said to be about five years behind the leading competition. This contrasts with the eight-year gap provided by the Biden administration’s export ban.
The Huawei Mate 60, Mate 60 Pro, Mate 60 Pro+ and Mate X5 foldable phones feature this HiSilicon chip, along with other Chinese components such as display panels from BOE, camera modules from OFILM and batteries from Sunwoda. Having its own network of local companies will eventually allow Huawei to reduce its dependence on imported components. It could become a beacon for China’s chip industry, especially in the era of electric cars and artificial intelligence, where demand for chips is higher than ever. However, Huawei reportedly denied receiving government assistance to achieve this goal.
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