Radio frequency chips are the most important component Huawei needs in which American companies are far ahead. 5G phones have to support dozens of frequency bands at a very high speed and great precision.
Only the very best chip designers can deliver what’s needed in a very small module. It requires special materials and state of the art processing.
“Huawei is producing 30% of their RF components,” Qorvo CEO Robert Bruggeworth told investors.
Huawei RF components are rarely reported in English, but Tech Insights has a full teardown of the Mate 20. It shows a half-dozen HiSilicon RF components.
Currently, Qorvo, Skyworks, Broadcom/Avago and perhaps Qualcomm/TDK are the only companies with ultra-small filters, power amplifiers, and other front end components for mobile phones. If Huawei couldn’t obtain U.S. chips, the phone might have to be a 1/4 of an inch larger.
Huawei in the financial call estimated they have created alternatives for 70% of the parts that might be denied them. 90% is likely by the end of 2019.
HiSilicon is the largest chip design company in China. The Kirin 980 mobile chip is among the best in the world. It has thousands of researchers including many Ph.D’s.
Although the best known Chinese RF chips are behind the state of the art, China has a large number of engineers who can produce world-class chips. They supply aerospace and the military. Academic research is also advancing.
China can and will do whatever is necessary to avoid unequal treaties.