U.S. tech played a role in building Huawei’s Kirin 9000s AP for the Mate 60 Pro

Exactly one year to the day after the U.S. made things difficult for Huawei by placing the company on the Entity List, the U.S. smacked Huawei again by announcing a change to U.S. export rules. The new rules prevented foundries using American technology from shipping cutting-edge chips to Huawei without a license. Considered a threat to national security,  Huawei was prevented from working with its U.S. supply chain including Google, and from obtaining its own 5G Kirin chips designed by its HiSilicon unit.
Until last year, the last Huawei phone with a 5G application processor (AP) was the Mate 40 which was released in 2020 with the Kirin 9000 SoC inside. Once Huawei ran out of these chips, it had to obtain a license from the U.S. Commerce Department to buy Snapdragon chipsets from Qualcomm. These chips were modified not to work with 5G networks. As a result, in 2022 the P50, Mate 50, and P60 flagship models had to use these 4G-only Snapdragon APs.
But last August, Huawei stunned the world by introducing the Mate 60 Pro which was powered by the 7nm Kirin 9000s, the first 5G chip to power a Huawei phone since 2020. U.S. lawmakers were shocked and Bloomberg reports today that China’s largest foundry, SMIC, built the Kirin¬† 9000s chipset with technology obtained from two American firms, Applied Materials Inc. and Lam Research Corp.

Before U.S. lawmakers have a conniption, the report notes that SMIC had acquired the technology from Applied Materials Inc and Lam Research Corp. that was used to help create the Kirin 9000s before the aforementioned U.S. export rule changed in October 2022. Even though nothing improper took place, since the Kirin 9000s was unveiled along with the Mate 60 Pro, the U.S. has blocked SMIC from receiving even more U.S. imports.

Since Huawei launched the Mate 60 Pro, the company has benefited from a surge in nationalism as Huawei has become, once again, one of the top phone manufacturers in China.

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