British chipmaker ARM says it will continue to supply Huawei

British chipmaker ARM says it will continue to supply Huawei
Digital sovereignty

UK-based chip manufacturer ARM says it will continue to provide its chip designs to Huawei, after their legal team found that the technology is “of UK origin” and not subject to a US trade ban against the Chinese tech company, according to Reuters. It’s a reversal from earlier this year when ARM told staff to suspend their dealings with Huawei. 

“ARM can provide support to HiSilicon for the ARM v8-A architecture, as well as the next generation of that architecture, following a comprehensive review of both architectures, which have been determined to be of UK origin,” a spokesperson told Reuters. 

While the company is based in the UK, it has offices in the US, and the Trump administration has issued a ban that would prohibit using “US origin technology” to supply Huawei. 

One analyst told Engadget that losing ARM’s designs would have been “an insurmountable obstacle for Huawei.”

Huawei, which is the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer, was unable to include Google services when it released the Mate 30 last month, as a result of the ban. Nonetheless, its revenue has continued to grow despite the restrictions, rising 24.4 percent in the first nine months of the year to reach 610.8 billion yuan.

The company is set to lose access to other US companies next month, and the decision by ARM should help mitigate the damage for Huawei. Huawei’s proprietary chips, from its semiconductor company HiSilicon, rely on ARM design architecture for their GPU and CPU, and those chips are crucial in its efforts to function without help from US companies.

ARM’s announcement applies through the next generation of architecture, suggesting it’s possible that future generations could be affected by the ban.

“Arm is actively communicating with department officials regarding any support of our partner HiSilicon, and we remain confident we are operating within the parameters of those guidelines,” the spokesperson said. 

US officials have suggested that Huawei equipment could enable spying by the Chinese government. While officials haven’t been able to cite evidence of past spying, they’ve said that a new law in China could allow the government to compel individuals and private firms to help gather foreign and domestic intelligence.

The US has asked allies to support restrictions on the company, but responses from European states have been mixed. The UK has delayed a final decision on whether to use Huawei equipment in its 5G networks, but leaks have suggested it may allow Huawei to work on less critical “non-core” components of the networks. 

Photo: GillyBerlin [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

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