Weekly news roundup: Huawei's chip made by SMIC is a breakout, not a breakthrough and other top stories

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

These are the most-read stories on the DIGITIMES Asia website during the week of September 11–15:

Huawei's Kirin 9000S chip made by SMIC is only a breakout, not a breakthrough

Even though SMIC is lagging behind TSMC and Samsung Electronics by 5-6 and 4-5 years, respectively, it still managed to cross the threshold of advanced semiconductor manufacturing by successfully manufacturing Huawei's Kirin 9000S processor with multiple exposure processes using its FinFET N+2 node on immersion DUV machines. However, the Kirin 9000S chip that SMIC produced for Huawei is not a "breakthrough." It is only a "breakout" of the restrictions imposed by the US.

Next US export ban against China could target advanced packaging

In light of the fact that Chinese foundries can still obtain used equipment and consumables for process technology upgrades despite the US ban, the US could target advanced packaging for sanctions next, according to industry sources in Taiwan.

Huawei HarmonyOS to be available for PCs

Following the release of Huawei's Mate60 Pro series of smartphones, it has been reported that its Harmony operating system (OS) will enter the PC sector in 2024. Wang Chenglu, a former senior official at Huawei who once led the development of Harmony, revealed that HarmonyOS will be launched on PCs in 2024.

Huawei and Xiaomi incorporate LLM in smartphones, why not Apple?

In contrast to previous AI applications that relied on cloud servers, Chinese smartphone makers, including Huawei and Xiaomi, have been launching a "cloud + terminal" strategy since August 2023, aiming to run LLMs directly on smartphones and bring AI applications to end-user devices. However, realizing this goal requires overcoming a series of technical and resource challenges. Since it is still in the exploratory stage, far from maturity, no wonder Apple is not eager to join the race at this stage, since it has always been accustomed to "make the late but impactful strike".

South Korean semiconductor industry reels from long-term contracts signed with GlobalWafers in 2021

In the face of the semiconductor industry's downturn, GlobalWafers continues to maintain strong performance, achieving record-high combined revenue in the first half of 2023. However, the South Korean semiconductor industry is currently facing a challenging situation due to its prior high-priced, long-term contracts with GlobalWafers, making it difficult to manage the increasing inventory in these tough economic times.

In light of Huawei's 5G smartphone launch, US could pose even stricter sanctions, said DIGITIMES Research

Huawei's secret launch of the Mate 60 Pro 5G smartphone has put many in the US chip industry on high alert. The fact that Huawei chose to schedule the launch during US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo's visit to China is seen as Huawei making a statement on its self-sufficiency. In response, the US could be issuing even stricter export sanctions, according to DIGITIMES Research senior analyst Luke Lin.

Huawei shines in spotlight, but optimism amid US sanctions remains premature

Huawei was put into the spotlight after it launched the Mate 60 Pro powered by a secretive SMIC-made SoC. However, it is too early to be optimistic about Huawei's breakthrough from US sanctions. Views differ on whether the Mate 60 Pro is Huawei's comeback in the smartphone market or is more of an experimental product. The smartphone is largely expected to put pressure on Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Apple.