Trade restrictions imposed by the US government have made it difficult for Chinese electronics company Huawei to source chips and other components for its smartphones in recent years. But over the past week or so the company has launched four new smartphones that show that Huawei might have another path forward.

Researchers at TechInsights tell Bloomberg and Reuters that Huawei’s latest phones are using more components made in China than the company’s previous products, allowing Huawei to offer phones with the kind of performance you’d have seen from competitor’s flagship phones a few years ago.

Huawei Mate x5

Specifically, the Kirin 9000s processor found in phones like the Huawei Mate 60 Pro appears to be a 7nm chip with processing power on par with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which was released in 2021.

Other new phones include the Huawei Mate 60Mate 60 Pro+, and Mate X5 (which is a foldable phone), and they all seem to support 5G-like cellular connectivity with 1 Gbps or faster download speeds.

The chips are manufactured by SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), which is a Chinese chip foundry that appears to be catching up to rivals like TSMC and Samsung, even if it’s still a few years behind (MediaTek recently announced that it’s developed one of the first chips using TSMC’s 3nm process, and Apple’s next-gen iPhone processors are also expected to be 3nm chips).

Still, China has been investing heavily in locally-sourced technology over the past few years in response to US sanctions, and this could be a sign that Huawei and other Chinese companies may have viable alternatives. It’s unclear what kind of yields SMIC is capable of though – the Mate 60 Pro sold out soon after it went on sale in China this week, which could indicate strong demand… but it could also be a sign of limited supply.

via Bloomberg, Engadget, and TechRadar

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  1. It was great for them to get to 7nm, but getting to 3nm is perhaps 10x the effort. Even Intel has to use ASML machines to reach the next nodes. Presently China is effectively 2-3 years behind, but that gap will keep getting larger until they have duplicated ASML technology.

    1. It depends.
      These 7nm chips are using the old pattern technique from 16nm, so they’re behind the technology of the older 5nm nodes we have today. Basically, these chips are the Creme Dela Creme. They’re VERY expensive and VERY limited production. If you paid attention, we knew these chips were coming years back.

      The current TSMC-3nm are a huge jump in comparison, AND they are for Mass Production.

      So SMIC is moreso 5-Years behind, and that is very high praise, for a company that had virtually zero market presence just a few years ago.

      The Americans are crying wolf about stolen technology. They’re not wrong. But having China, through SMIC and HiSilicon be relavent is “good” for me as a consumer. Their funding seems to be entirely State Sponsored (public) rather than say TSMC which is Market Funded (private). It brings up the notions of Capitalism vs Communism. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, take a pragmatic look, and see which tool has best advantages to the system.

      The state of silicon race is now something along the lines of: TSMC >> Samsung > Intel >> SMIC > Global Foundries. Not to mention other smaller competitors that specialise in other markets (flash, automotive, high volume old tech, etc etc). As opposed to say 10-15 years ago when Intel >> Global Foundries > TSMC > Samsung >> SMIC.

  2. Let the flamewars commence here too then. It’s not going to change anything. No one is allowed to say anything that would change anything.