There’s no replacing Arm’s expertise
Huawei has been dealt another blow in its escalating conflict with the US government, as UK-based chip designer has reportedly cut ties with the embattled company in compliance with a recent US trade ban.
This is devastating for Huawei’s mobile ambitions since Arm provides an integral part of their Kirin processor design.
While Huawei can simply source other components of their phones from non-US based companies and provide their own mobile chipset to replace the ones offered by Qualcomm for example, Arm is an integral part of the company’s Kirin chipset design.
Huawei licenses many of Arm’s technologies in the design of their own chipset, forming the foundation of their Kirin family of processors produced by their HiSilicon subsidiary.
While Huawei can always go with a version of Android sourced from the Android Open Source Program without going through Google themselves, they cannot produce their own chips to use on their phones without a license from Arm since their designs are proprietary and not open source.
In fact, Arm’s designs form the foundations of many chipset designs that are produced by many manufacturers, including Samsung and MediaTek, in addition to Qualcomm and HiSilicon.
If Huawei cannot get the ban lifted on Arm’s technology, their mobile ambitions are effectively over, since they won’t be able to secure a chipset design that won’t run afoul of the US’ trade ban.
This would greatly impact the company’s ability to design and produce future processors and chipsets since they wouldn’t be able to produce them or get technical guidance from Arm during the design phase.
The company will have to essentially make their own chip from scratch without trampling on the thousands of patents that Arm has already applied for, and have been granted.