Huawei builds its own chip factory in Cambridge to counter Arm blow


"Global processors are all based on ARM's architecture", commented Avi Greengart, founder of US-based research firm Techsponential. The move has dire consequences for Huawei's smartphone ambitions, as ARM's technology forms the foundation of HiSilicon's Kirin chipsets.

The chip factory is slated for the 550-acre former Spicers site at Sawston for which Huawei recently paid £37.5 million, as first revealed by Business Weekly.

The company may think that it won't be too hard to develop its own ecosystem by leveraging on its existing technologies and remaining partners, but the task might prove challenging.

With Intel and AMD also affected by the U.S. ban, that means Huawei can't even use x86 architecture chips for their laptops or smartphones.

Washington is lobbying Britain not to use Huawei's products, and on Thursday a South Korean newspaper reported similar pressure was being placed on Seoul.

But some see this as an opportunity to get a quality phone on the cheap.

Previously, about five people a day were looking to trade in their Huawei phones, but that has jumped to 20 in the last two days, said Zack, a salesman at Mobile Square in Singapore who declined to give his last name. "But Google said current Huawei users will not be affected. after that, I was relieved".

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Although the United States delayed the ban for 90 days, Huawei is already thinking of a backup plan, should the ban go back into effect.

Huawei is now in the midst of a 90-day grace period where it can still conduct business with U.S. companies before the effects of being in the Entity List come into force on August 19.

The company does make its own chips to power its phones, thanks to its HiSilicon semiconductor company.

Building a new mobile operating system is not an easy task. This means Huawei would need to resort to AOSP builds for Android and it wont be allowed to ship devices with Google Play Services. Inventing a new architecture is more akin to developing your own operating system kernel or a compiler for a computer language.

The processor in a phone needs to work closely with the operating system in a device.

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster in the tech world as the USA government's trade war with China is starting to have quite the impact.

Huawei may well have contingency plans in place and try to minimize the damage, but what if more firms join the bandwagon and sever links with the Chinese group in a bid to stay on the right side of the US?