Mate 60 Pro Smartphone: Speculation Rife Over How Huawei Overcame Crippling U.S Sanctions To Develop Own 'Made-in-China' 5G Chip
Embattled Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies on Sunday (Sep 3) officially kicked off online sales for its latest high-end flagship Mate 60 Pro, triggering widespread speculation on how the 'made-in-China' 5G capable chipset was made despite strict U.S. trade sanctions.
Earlier last week, Huawei announced the start of preorders for its flagship smartphone without providing details about the advanced semiconductor driving it.
According to multiple product teardown videos posted by Chinese tech observers and enthusiasts, the new phone comes with an in-house developed Kirin mobile chipset. It supports 5G connectivity and satellite phone calls. Huawei is reportedly developing its own Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and power management chips.
A Chinese benchmarking website, AnTuTu, identified the central processing unit (CPU) in the Mate 60 Pro as the Kirin 9000s from Huawei's chip design unit HiSilicon. The CPU has a 12-core configuration and a top clock speed of 2.62 gigahertz, according to AnTuTu.
In 2019, the U.S. restricted Huawei from buying advanced 5G chips and software from U.S. companies 2019, which dealt a heavy blow to its high-end smartphone business. The company could only sell limited batches of 5G models using stockpiled chips.
The surprise release of the smartphone has triggered speculation on how Huawei had managed to achieve 5G capabilities.
Huawei and China's leading chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp(SMIC), which is also on the Entity List, were known to be collaborating on 5G mobile chips.
According to a note posted by research company TechInsights on its WeChat account, SMIC may have used existing equipment and applied its second-generation 7-nanometre process, known as the N+2 node, to manufacture the 5G-capable Kirin 9000s for Huawei.
If SMIC has achieved this capability, it will represent a significant victory for China's semiconductor industry. A smartphone with a self-developed 5G chipset would mark an important milestone for Huawei as it battles a long U.S. tech crackdown.
Few observers have suggested that chips in Huawei's new phone are from stockpiled inventory and were likely to be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) before September 2020, when the U.S. imposed crippling sanctions on the telecom giant.
A U.S-based association of global chip companies has reportedly warned its members that Huawei is building a collection of semiconductor-fabrication facilities across China, a shadow manufacturing network that would let the blacklisted company turn its chip designs into reality.
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