Huawei Technologies Co., which has faced several years of US semiconductor sanctions, unveiled a new smartphone with a cutting-edge 7-nanometer processor in China. While this processor matches the performance of Apple's iPhones from 2018, it raises questions about the effectiveness of US sanctions in curbing China's progress in chip technology. There are concerns this development could enrage Washington.
Bloomberg purchased a Huawei Mate 60 Pro. The handset was delivered to TechInsights for a complete teardown. They found a new Kirin 9000s chip manufactured in China by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.
TechInsights said SMIC had used existing equipment and applied its second-generation 7-nanometer process, known as the N+2 node, to manufacture the Kirin 9000s chip for the Mate 60 Pro. This phone with the new chip is on par with Apple's iPhones launched in 2018. Currently, iPhone chips are made by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, using a 4-nanometer process.
The unveiling of Mate 60 Pro with the new chip shows China's advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors have yet to be hindered by US sanctions and suggests the world's second-largest economy still has a lot of room to innovate.
"It's a pretty important statement for China," TechInsights Vice Chair Dan Hutcheson said, adding, "SMIC's technology advances are on an accelerated trajectory, and appear to have addressed yield-impacting issues in their 7nm technology."
Paul Triolo, the technology policy lead at the Washington-based business consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group, told The Washington Post, "This development will almost certainly prompt much stronger calls for further tightening of export control licensing for US suppliers of Huawei, who continue to be able to ship commodity semiconductors that are not used for 5G applications."
China's official broadcaster, CGTN, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, said this is "Huawei's first higher-end Kirin processor since 2020 after the US government restricted American businesses from selling their products or services to Huawei."
The new Kirin chip is manufactured by #Chinese #semiconductor company #SMIC. It is Huawei’s first higher-end Kirin processor since 2020 after the U.S. government restricted American businesses from selling their products or services to #Huawei. #China #USsanctions #semiconductor https://t.co/uqE5wXEaow— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) August 29, 2023
"Huawei breaks free from US tech blockade," The Global Times, a state-run communist newspaper in China, posted on X. We have reported: Huawei To Dodge US Sanctions With 'Secret' Network Of Chip Factories.
SMIC shares in Hong Kong rose 6.1% on the new chip news.
In mid-Sept., Apple is expected to begin taking preorders for new iPhones built with 3-nanometer chips. Even though Mate 60 Pro is at 7-nanometer, the point is that Washington's sanctions are failing to cripple China's chip development.
... where else in the world have we seen US sanctions fail to paralyze countries? Ah, yes, Russia.