Just a few days after the US added Huawei to its "Entity List," things are continuing to go south for the Chinese manufacturer. The demise began with Google announcing it would put an end to its partnership with the company, and continued with major chip manufacturers blacklisting it. Although Huawei is trying to mitigate the first issue by working on an in-house operating system, hardware related bans are much more complex to overcome. To make things worse, ARM has just asked its employees to stop working with the Chinese tech giant, which puts the company's Kirin chips at risk.
Although Huawei builds its own processors, the company needs a license from ARM to legally manufacture these. Indeed, instead of making the SoC itself, ARM licenses its technology to chip-makers, which Huawei then buys to produce its Kirin processors. As the core designs contain US-technology, the company has instructed its employees to suspend "all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei and HiSilicon, its chip-making subsidiary.
This ban shouldn't affect the upcoming Kirin 985 SoC, but will mean future products developed by the Chinese tech giant won't be able to rely on ARM technology. This is a major blow to the company, and comes on top of the aforementioned ones. While Huawei publicly shed some light on how it would overcome software woes, it has declined to comment this particular issue.
The company has issued the below statement to The Verge:
“ARM is complying with the latest restrictions set forth by the US government and is having ongoing conversations with the appropriate US government agencies to ensure we remain compliant. ARM values its relationship with our longtime partner HiSilicon and we are hopeful for a swift resolution on this matter.”
Although it simply confirms the pre-existing news, it hints at a possible resolution that would allow both companies to do business with each other again.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the group that produces the ARM-based Kirin processors for Huawei, believes that it can continue doing business with the company. According to Nikkei, TSMC's legal team is confident that its sales to Huawei don't violate the US trade ban, as the amount of US technology being used is apparently under the 25% threshold.