Briefing: UK semiconductor design company ARM cuts ties with Huawei

Posted May 24, 2019

And yesterday, according to the BBC, ARM, a design company for chips, based in Great Britain, gave indications to stop any contract with Huawei. Huawei has also reportedly stockpiled at least three months of chips from other vendors, in anticipation of being caught in the middle of a trade dispute between the USA and China.

ARM of course is still based in the United Kingdom after it was acquired by Japanese giant Softbank in 2016 and its chip designs are used in most mobile processors around the world.

From official announcements, Huawei said that their backup plan is to migrate away from Android and use HongMeng OS but there are no details about HongMeng OS other than the name itself.

Huawei could potentially create chips on its own using its source, HiSilicon.

British semiconductor company ARM has ordered its employees to cease all business with Huawei after the United States put the Chinese tech company on a trade blacklist last week.

Huawei has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late.

The company may think that it won't be too hard to develop its own ecosystem by leveraging on its existing technologies and remaining partners, but the task might prove challenging. The App Gallery is installed on Huawei's devices now, but Google's Play Store is often the default app store for consumers.

"This is a temporary measure while uncertainty exists regarding new Huawei 5G devices", a company spokesperson told CNN Business.

However, it seems clear that without the direct cooperation of ARM in the western hemisphere and the extended ecosystem of EDA firms and foundries such as TSMC, Huawei would be hamstrung in terms of long-term competiton.

"We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognize the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions", the Chinese firm said, referring to the U.S. ban.

The Trump administration softened its stance slightly this week by granting the firm a license to buy US goods until August 19 to minimize disruption for customers. But several technological experts doubt that it can do without U.S. aid.

Today there might be an even more serious threat to Huawei's business.

Are the consequences of Google complying with the US' Huawei ban as serious as they are made out to be? "But if we can not use that, Huawei will prepare the plan B to use our own OS".

"We have prepared our own operating system". As for the chipset within the smartphone, the component plays an important role in ensuring smoothness of the operating system. And while the current political climate in the USA may have forced Huawei's hand, the real shock would have been if Huawei didn't have any potential workarounds already in mind.

As of now, there are no easy answers.