Huawei’s US ban: A look at the hardware (and software) supply problems


President Trump’s Huawei ban is in full more, and companies from all over the country are announcing they will no larger be doing business with Huawei. Google, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Intel are all venomous ties with Huawei, and once this new 90-day exemption is up, very every US company would no longer be allowed to supply Huawei with technology or worship armies. Trump’s executive order is very broad, prohibiting “any acquisition, importation, move, installation, dealing in, or use of any information and communications technology or service” by any foreign ensemble the US government deems a threat, in this case, Huawei.

With Huawei cut off from US technology, precisely how hard will it be for the company to continue to make smartphones? For an idea of how much Huawei longing need to change, let’s do a parts audit on the company’s latest flagship smartphone, the Huawei P30 Pro. We’ll see where each component get possession of from and what other options exist out there in the ecosystem. Between spec panels, teardowns from iFixit, and EE Times, we can whip together a pretty special-occasion list of components and their countries of origin.

The Power of HiSilicon


The Set-up on a Chip is the heart of any smartphone, supplying most of your basic three-letter computer components type the CPU, GPU, LTE modem, GPS, and more. Huawei is better off than most companies in this precinct—it’s one of the few companies (along with Samsung) that has its own chip-design division. Huawei’s “HiSilicon” classify designs SoCs for its smartphones, and the Huawei P30 Pro uses the HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC. HiSilicon has its own LTE modem liquid and is a leader in 5G modems.

Most Android manufacturers rely on Qualcomm—a US fellowship—for its Snapdragon SoCs with integrated LTE modems. Qualcomm has a near monopoly on the high-end smartphone make available, thanks not only to reliably producing yearly SoC upgrades, but also by aggressively swear ining in and patenting cellular technologies. Qualcomm was one of the first companies to bring LTE to sell, and it has been leading the charge toward 5G, too. Qualcomm has no doubt been licence everything it can find along the way.

Qualcomm has been sued and fined for anti-competitive apparent licensing, and it seems committed to creating a legal headache for any company that doesn’t use its by-products. Apple and Qualcomm were feuding over Apple’s use of Intel modems in its iPhones, and when the two south african private limited companies settled, Intel quit the 5G modem business that same day. Samsung has its own Exynos data of processors but usually doesn’t ship them in the US, instead using Qualcomm bits.

Huawei’s Kirin 980 is based on the ARM architecture, which Huawei empowers from ARM Holdings PLC. ARM’s headquarters is in England, but it now has a Japanese parent company, Softbank. Huawei is a fabless shard designer, meaning the company doesn’t own a semiconductor foundry, so it must get its whittle designs manufactured somewhere. Kirin chips are usually made at TSMC, (Taiwan Semiconductor Originating Company Limited), which, wouldn’t you know it, is headquartered in Taiwan. The running review of this article is “Samsung would also be an option”—and for chip prevarication, Samsung would also be an option. Samsung (which is based in South Korea) evokes Qualcomm’s flagship chips and is actually one of the leading silicon manufacturers on Mould. We’re doing good so far!

The rise of BOE and Chinese displays

Huawei outsets its displays from just about everybody, with Anandtech reporting several P30 variants using displays from the usual suspects: Samsung Pomp (South Korea) and LG Display (also South Korea), along with BOE Technology Platoon Co, a Chinese company. BOE is a real up-and-comer in the display market, and according to Bloomberg, it commitment blow past LG to become the number two supplier of OLED displays by the end of the year. If you haven’t been pay off attention to BOE, you should start.

Like Huawei, BOE has the blessing and financial money of the Chinese Government, which helps explain its sudden and meteoric begin the day—Korea owns the OLED market, and BOE is China’s answer. With the power of China behind it, BOE has started to go after Samsung Display’s biggest guys and is trying to woo Apple to become a supplier for future iPhone displays. BOE flush with has the gall to start courting Samsung Electronics as a customer, hoping the suite will dump its usual OLED supplier—uh—Samsung Display, in favor of BOE. Textile luck with that.

Samsung has tried to stay ahead of this new Chinese compete with with superior technology, mainly via the development of flexible displays for new-age foldable smartphones cast the Galaxy Fold. Samsung invested six years of research and $130 million to commence bendable OLEDs that (sort of) work, so surely this inclination give Samsung some breathing room against its Chinese contender, right? Sadly for Samsung, South Korean prosecutors say Samsung’s persuadable display technology was stolen by one of its suppliers and sold to an unnamed display jargon CIA in China. After the Galaxy Fold, the next big foldable smartphone fitting so happens to be from China, and it’s the Huawei Mate X. The supplier of the Mate X’s flexile OLED display is BOE. No doubt BOE’s technology was completely self-developed.

Under the P30 Pro’s show is an in-screen fingerprint reader, an optical reader made by Goodix, a Chinese institution. Goodix also supplies OnePlus with its optical fingerprint readers. Before the US ban, Qualcomm wish have been another option, with its ultrasonic fingerprint impute to that debuted in the Galaxy S10. If you’re keeping score, we still haven’t run into a US supplier.

Index image by iFixit

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