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Smart Move: License a second source for Kunpeng

Huawei’s Kunpeng CPU benchmarks better than Intel. It’s based on ARM RISC cores and relatively inexpensive to produce. Microsoft supports Windows on ARM, although for now the Huawei PC’s run a Chinese version of Linux. It’s a hot chip and at the heart of numerous Huawei products.

Kunpeng does not have a rich ecosystem, however. Customers are uncomfortable. The natural way to build support is to license the design to other chipmakers. That will enlarge the market and third parties will see opportunity.

In the past, no one would buy a chip that only had one source. Intel licensed the 8086 to AMD by customer demand, one reason it became dominant. A smart customer knows a monopoly manufacturer could have a plant fire, a business problem, or even a political blockade. A second source gives the buyer some insurance against a problem with a single manufacturer.

Chinese chipmakers like Ziguang Zhanrui have the design and production skills needed. ZZ is shipping the 5G Tiger T7510 chip, manufactured at SMIC’s 12 nm fab. It has strong state43 backing through Tsinghua Unigroup and is well-funded.

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Huawei will survive, of course

Huawei people have an unbreakable spirit and dedication. If that isn’t enough, the Chinese government will do whatever it takes to protect Huawei. It’s a $120 billion company with almost 200,000 employees. Imagine what the U.S. would do if China decided to destroy Facebook, where so much hate spreads. We would protect it, although Facebook is 40% smaller than Huawei. Germany would never let Daimler disappear.

I’m doing the research and it’s becoming clear China will be able to produce the needed chips and components. The next two or three years could be very hard, especially on Huawei’s mobile phone sales, but the improved Chinese chip and software industries will be a major economic asset.

Hongmeng/Harmony is catching up to Google’s Android system. Software is not the problem. Google’s system is mostly 10 years old. It’s hard to implement the latest software advances into old code. With fresh code, Hongmeng has faster file operations and other improvements.

Replacing Taiwanese chips will be more challenging.

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My Government’s evil claims about China

China Must Go

The 1886 Chinese Exclusion Act is a blot on U.S. history. In the future, Sec. Pompeo’s claims about Chinese technology will be equally discredited.

Huawei 5G radios: 12 nm & chiplets should do the job

Although the best mobile phones need the most advanced chips to be competitive, 5G radios simply have to be able to perform their functions effectively. Radios, unlike phones, have room and power for 2 or 3 slightly less efficient chips. The necessary functions can be split between two chips or three chips, each optimized for the many different functions required by the 5G radio. Huawei will neither confirm nor deny this is practical, so I am reaching out to chip experts.

There are many different ways to measure efficiency and experts disagree on how much more efficient 7 nm chips are than 12 nm, the best that can be produced today at SMIC in China. Estimates range from 20% to 50%, and there’s no simple way for a firm estimate until chips are available for test. Almost certainly, two 12 nm chips can match the functions of one 7 nm chip. A third chip could be optimized for functions that needed the most speed.

The 2 or 3 chips can be delivered as “chiplets,” which AMD and others are demonstrating can be very effective. 2-8 chips are combined into a single package with custom-designed high-speed interconnections. AMD’s Mark Papermaster is the pioneer here, using a chiplet design to quickly bring the Epyc server chip to market.

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Euro telcos back Huawei

“You really need a global, open vendor equipment market, which is needed for operators to be able to pursue a multi-vendor strategy,” ETNO’s Maarit Palovirta asserts. ETNO speaks in Brussels for giant telcos like Deutsche Telekom. Like most policy types, she rarely says things directly. It’s clear “open vendor equipment” is meant to address Huawei.

A reporter for <a major newspaper> just told me the carriers support Huawei so strongly because the service has been excellent. That’s what I hear from all the tech people, especially in Europe.

Ten years ago, Huawei had to cut prices to win initial market share. That’s no longer necessary. Nokia said it actually underbid Huawei in China. The Washington Post still gets that wrong.

Palovirta really does need to rethink some of her other comments. With no new use cases developing, there’s no reason to think 5G will have an interesting economic impact. As Dean Bubley and Deutsche Telekom have pointed out, almost everything claimed for industrial 5G works fine in 4G or Wi-Fi.

Separately, the Africans and most Latin Americans continue to choose Huawei.

U.S. Commerce claims

The chip blockade will be devastating to Huawei in the short run, but China will spend whatever it takes to become independent and protect Huawei. Over $100 billion is available for chip investment.

In a few years, China will be equal to anyone in the chip business. It will win away from the U.S. tens or possibly hundreds of billions in chip sales. Huawei will survive and thrive.

It’s hired 3,000 chip engineers from world leader Taiwan by doubling salaries. Academic research is funded in the billions. Corporate research and development gets massive tax breaks.

See Gross idiocy from the Donald for how dumb the administration is about this. Here, the official announcement:

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Gross idiocy from the Donald

Years of intense effort by the world’s greatest spy agencies have found no spying by Huawei, and certainly nothing significant. But Donald Trump needs his alternate reality.

From The Hill:

Trump said to“Fox & Friends” on Monday that Huawei was able to “spy on us” through the use of their equipment in telecommunications systems, describing the company as “a disaster.”

“They used to have free reign over our country,” Trump said. “They knew everything we were doing. Huawei is really, I call it the ‘Spy-wei.’ What happens is Huawei comes out and they spy on our country. This is very intricate stuff. You have microchips, you have things that you can’t even see. They spy.”

“With the U.K., we said, we love Scotland Yard very much but we’re not going to do business with you because if you use the Huawei system, that means they’re spying on you, that would mean they’re spying on us,” Trump said. “And I’ve gotten just about every country to drop it.” 

The Hill was irresponsible not simply calling this an outrageous lie.

Subsidized chip design companies looking to supply Huawei

Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes writes regional government chip companies have been making “Mass purchases of electronics design automation (EDA) software” according to Koki Inoue, principal researcher at the Economic Research Institute of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Machine Industry. told Nikkei in a report dated back in June

Companies headed by the muni governments in China began setting up shop to develop a new fabless semiconductor manufacturer base. These new limited liability corporations are believed to number in the hundreds across the country and were set up in a matter of months.

Inoue’s research shows a surge in local government purchases of EDA software, which then is used by the new fabless makers to make the necessary chips.

SCMP is worried that China is spending so much on chipmaking it will have overcapacity. That’s a good problem to have when chip capabilities are part of a trade war.

China will do whatever is necessary to protect Huawei,

Huawei more innovative than IBM, Facebook, or Tesla

BCG data
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In an unscientific but large poll by Boston Consulting Group, Huawei was ranked the 6th most innovative company in the world, eclipsing some of the most respected companies in the world. Its US$20 billion research budget ranks with Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung, the only companies perceived as more innovative.

Trump’s war has done wonders for Huawei’s reputation. Two years ago, Huawei was the leader in telecom but little known outside it. When the most powerful nation on earth expressing mortal fear, people outside the industry took note.

Few of the 2,500 “senior executives” surveyed are experts in innovation. Nearly none have the time for close study. They are too busy doing their jobs. There’s no absolute measure here.

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Beat the Boycott? Shifting HiSilicon Engineers to Tsinghua Unigroup/Unisoc

State-controlled Unisoc is hiring many engineers from HiSilicon, report Digitimes & Business Korea. Unisoc (once known as Spreadtrum)is already shipping a 5G chip, the T7510. It’s made in a 6nm process at TSMC. See UNISOC/Ziguang Zhanrui & Hisense: Yet Another 5G competitor.

With the additional engineering talent, there’s no reason Unisoc can’t match and reproduce Huawei’s state-of-the-art 5G and other chips. Unigroup’s other subsidiary, Yangtze Memory, employs 2000 engineers. It is producing 64 layer 3D NAND chips in volume and sampling 128 layer chips, close to the state of the art. It just broke ground on a facility designed to triple production. See Yangtze Memory proves Chinese semiconductors can be competitive. Unigroup expects to invest US$24 billion in memory chips.

Being born in Seoul or California does not mean you will be better able to design chips. HiSilicon engineers have designed chips equal to the best of Qualcomm and Intel. If Unisoc hires many of them, it will quickly be able to match almost any chipmaker.

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