ARM Tells Staff to Stop Working With Huawei

May 22, 2019
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Shortly after the U.S government asked all US-based companies to stop doing business with Huawei, things appear to be getting progressively worse for the Chinese telecommunications behemoth. The company stands to lose its Android license but has been granted temporary respite until mid-August. To make matters worse, their in-house Android replacement is far from complete and may not see the light of day until next year. Today, Huawei received another major blow when Cambridge-based ARM technologies instructed all of their employees to stop working with Huawei.

According to a report by the BBC, ARM instructed employees to halt “all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei and its subsidiaries. The company also told its staff not to “engage in technical discussions, or otherwise discuss technical matters with Huawei, HiSilicon or any of the other named entities.”

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ARM states that the reason for the suspension is because their products contained “US-origin technology”. In a statement to the BBC, ARM said it was “complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government”, but declined to comment further. An ARM source told the BBC its staff had been ordered not to start working with Huawei or its subsidiaries again, even during the 90-day period granted by the U.S Department of Commerce.

How does this affect Huawei

Huawei has been using their in-house Hisilicon Kirin chipsets to power their devices for a long time. However, manufacturers such as HiSilicon license ARM’s processor core designs. Huawei’s chip-making business will be in serious jeopardy if they lose access to ARM’s licenses. Without an active Android license and access to ARM’s technology, Huawei’s smartphone division will be severely crippled. The company will have to practically ‘reinvent’ the smartphone to stay in business.

The ban also appeared to apply to ARM China, the China-based company in which ARM Holdings owns a 49% stake. HiSilicon and Huawei can continue using and manufacturing existing chips, but they can no longer use ARM technology for assistance in developing components for devices in future.

Thankfully, the move will not hinder the development of HiSilicon’s upcoming processor; the Kirin 985. The flagship SoC is expected to make its debut in Huawei devices later this year. According to a source at ARM, it is not expected to be affected by the ban. Huawei is yet to comment on the matter and we’ll update the story once we hear more about it.

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