Huawei Mate 40 will be the last smartphone with a Kirin processor
According to analytics companies Counterpoint, IDC, and Canalys, Huawei sold more smartphones in the second quarter of 2020 than any other manufacturer. While this can be attributed in part to the Chinese economic recovery, it was still a good achievement. However, Huawei's victory won't last long, however, as it faces tough times ahead.
Google has already banned Huawei from using its apps and services in accordance with US government orders. The US government is now also requiring manufacturers using US technology to request their explicit approval before selling the chips to Huawei. Taiwanese chip company TSMC has confirmed that it is no longer accepting new orders from Huawei. This circumstance puts the future of Kirin chips in a suspended state.
Huawei Business Group CEO Yu Chengdong said the production of the Kirin chips would stop after September 15th.
Previously, the company was expected to diversify its chip production with the help of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), which is the largest Chinese chip manufacturer. Analysts, however, were not so sure - they had doubts about SMIC's experience and ability to produce chips for Huawei.
It turns out that they were right as Huawei admitted defeat and announced that the Kirin chipsets could no longer be produced. Chengdong called this a huge loss to the company, which is understandable.
TSMC will ship all previous orders for the Kirin 1020 by September 14, the flagship chipset that is likely to power the upcoming Mate 40. This chipset appears to be based on the 5nm process, the same manufacturing method that is likely, the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 will be produced.
The Kirin 1020 boasts a 50% performance improvement over the Kirin 990, which powers the Mate 30.
Huawei has also confirmed that the Mate 40 will be the last smartphone with its own chipset. Kirin has advantages such as better integration with Huawei smartphones and lower cost. The abandonment of Kirin is undoubtedly a major blow to the company. Earlier it was reported that due to the insufficient number of Kirin 1020 chipsets, Huawei can use other chipsets in parallel, but now even this option is no longer possible.
The Mate 40 smartphone will be announced in September and will likely launch in China first and then make its way to Europe.
Does this state of affairs mean the end of Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon?
HiSilicon earlier this year became the first Chinese company to be included in the list of the top ten chip manufacturers. Now that the Huawei subsidiary will probably no longer develop chips, it may close down.
Qualcomm will obviously try to get permission from the US Department of Commerce to produce chips for Huawei next year. Otherwise, its future smartphones will presumably run on MediaTek chipsets.
As for the Chinese SMIC, the company produced the Kirin 710A. This is a 14nm chip, and of course, the process is now very outdated.
Samsung, which supplies Huawei with OLED panels and memory chips, doesn't seem interested in selling its processors to a Chinese company. The reason for the alleged decision is unknown, but it seems that Samsung does not want to anger the US government.
Chengdong also mentioned Harmony OS during his speech related to this news. He confirmed that all Huawei products, including PCs, tablets, and even smartphones, will be based on Harmony OS, not Android. Again, this is not surprising, since the ban in the US also prevents Huawei from using Google apps and services, which are necessary for the normal operation of Android.
However, Chengdong did not specify a specific time frame for the launch of Harmony OS on their devices. It is possible that Huawei smartphones of 2021 may become the first devices with Harmony OS.