Huawei builds self-sufficient chip network after overcoming US economic sanctions

It has been reported that Huawei, a major Chinese IT company that continues to be excluded from the US market, is building a network that will allow it to manufacture chips self-sufficiently without relying on the US. Masu.

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Under the Trump administration, the United States considered Huawei dangerous as a manufacturer of 'products that pose information and communications risks,' and in 2019 decided to ban government agencies from purchasing Huawei products. In 2020, it designated Huawei and Chinese smartphone maker ZTE as ``national security threats.''

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by Kārlis Dambrāns

ASML, a Dutch manufacturer that handles almost exclusively extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) equipment necessary for semiconductor manufacturing, has been banned from exporting EUV technology to China.

These measures have forced Huawei into a situation where it is difficult to make devices that can compete globally. However, with the help of the Chinese and local governments, they are slowly regaining their strength.

In order to avoid U.S. sanctions, Huawei received support from an investment fund in Shenzhen City and worked with small local businesses in a hidden manner to set up a chip production system. This includes a subsidiary of SiCarrier, which has lithography equipment development technology, and former ASML employees were also hired.

In terms of semiconductor manufacturing, while Taiwan's TSMC and South Korea's Samsung produce products for the 3nm process node, China's SMIC could only produce products up to the 7nm process node. This is because, as mentioned above, EUV technology has been discontinued and deep ultraviolet lithography (DUV) equipment is used instead.

The smaller the process node, the greater the number of transistors in the chip, which increases performance and energy efficiency.The fact that the process node cannot be made smaller means that it is difficult to catch up due to the difference in performance. In fact, the SMIC Kirin 9000S installed in the Mate 60 released by Huawei in the fall of 2023 is said to be about five years behind SoCs in other countries. However, the effect that the United States was originally aiming for was to ``delay Chinese technology by eight years,'' so this can be described as a catch-up of about three years.

According to chip expert Vern Lin, SMIC has reached the point where it can manufacture 5nm process node products using DUV equipment. Furthermore, if it is possible to incorporate mask technology such as the nanoimprint lithography (NIL) technology announced by Canon in October 2023, SMIC is expected to be able to support up to the 2nm process node.

The supply chain for other parts is already being established, and Huawei plans to double the number of smartphone sales in 2024. It may not be at all unlikely that ``Huawei will overcome the US economic sanctions and make a comeback.''

in Hardware, Posted by logc_nt