ARM Will Continue To Supply Huawei With Chip Tech

British chip designer ARM Holdings has concluded an investigation by its legal team which found its designs are of UK origin.

This is an important conclusion, as it means that its tech will not breach any US restrictions if it supplies Huawei Technologies with its designs.

In May this year, ARM staff were told to suspend all business with Huawei, after President Donald Trump had signed a national security executive order and immediately after that, Huawei was placed on an ‘Entity List’, which prevented it from acquiring parts and components from US companies.

ARM ruling

ARM was worried at the time that its processor designs might contain “US origin technology”. As a result, the Trump ban affected its ability to do business with Huawei.

But now according to Reuters, its internal legal team ruled that its chip technology is of UK origin, and thus US restrictions do not apply.

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

Huawei still uses ARM blueprints to design processors that power its smartphones, and this ruling will ease the pressure on Huawei’s fully-owned chipmaker HiSilicon, which had faced losing access to the designs after the US Commerce Department had twice given the Chinese firm a reprieve from the US blacklisting until November.

No US tech

According to Reuters, Huawei’s proprietary chips such as Kirin 990 mobile processors and Ascend 910 AI chipset are built on ARM’s design architecture and considered a major hallmark of the Chinese firm’s attempts to reduce its reliance on US technologies.

“ARM’s v8 and v9 are UK-origin technologies,” an ARM spokeswoman told Reuters via email on Friday.

“ARM can provide support to HiSilicon for the ARM v8-A architecture, as well as the next generation of that architecture, following a comprehensive review of both architectures, which have been determined to be of UK origin.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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