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Now ARM pulls the rug out from under Huawei

ARM is reported to have halted dealings with Huawei in the most serious blow yet for the Chinese smartphone giant. 

Huawei makes a lot of its own phone hardware, but like almost all other smartphone makers it relies on the designs from British run but Japanese-owned ARM. 

A memo obtained by the BBC says that ARM’s designs contain “US origin technology” and, as such, it believes it needs to comply with the ban. The memo tells staff to supend “all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei.

In a statement emailed to Pocket-lint, ARM simply says “ARM is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government”.

Pretty much all phone chips rely on ARM designs for their processing cores, including Apple’s A-Series chips, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, Huawei’s Kirin series and Samsung’s Exynos. 

Without ARM’s designs, there’s simply no way Huawei could continue to make phones and tablets, at least not in the short to medium term. And it’s unlikely it would be able to develop its own chip designs due to restrictions around patents and the potential of resulting legal action.

Huawei has a lot of business elsewhere, so it’s not necessarily a fatal blow for the company as a whole, though it surely would be for its smartphone business unless it could perhaps buy complete phones from another company who were unaffected by the ban. That is, however, a totally unlikely scenario.

Cambridge-based ARM was founded in 1990, spun off from British computer manufacturer Acorn. It was originally also partly owned by Apple in a joint venture. ARM was able to design efficient processors based and found massive success in designing chips for mobile devices, leading to SoftBank acquiring it in 2016. 


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