UK chip designer ARM has said it would stop licensing its essential technology to Huawei, hindering Huawei’s plans to ramp up production of its own silicon chips.
The Cambridge-based company, which is owned by Japan’s SoftBank, said it was forced to cease sharing its technology with Huawei to comply with a US banning order, issued last week.
“ARM is complying with the latest restrictions set forth by the U.S. government and is having ongoing conversations with the appropriate U.S. government agencies to ensure we remain compliant,” an ARM spokesman said in a statement.
“ARM values its relationship with our longtime partner HiSilicon (Huawei’s chip arm) and we are hopeful for a swift resolution on this matter.”
The step is a big setback for the Chinese company which was dealt a series of blows on Tuesday when four large mobile operators in Japan and the UK pulled planned launches of new Huawei smartphones due to the US banning order.
While ARM is not a US company, its designs include intellectual property from a number of US companies that it has bought, including the $931m purchase in 2004 of Artisan, a US chip company. Arm said its designs contained “US origin technology”, making them subject to the export controls.
Huawei had planned to increase production of its own chips after the news of the ban, which has cut it off from microprocessors made by Qualcomm and Intel, among others.
Huawei’s chip design unit HiSilicon employs 7,000 people and has produced a range of smartphone chips, many of which are manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan. But these designs rely heavily on ARM’s technology.
Huawei confirmed it had been informed over the weekend that ARM would stop doing business with it. The company’s Kirin 980 chipset is built on ARM designs but will not be affected for about a year, it estimated.
A Huawei spokesperson said:
“We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognise the pressure some of them are under as a result of politically motivated decisions. We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world.”