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Update | TSMC can do business with Huawei again, but with a reportedly epic twist

A 28nm chipset. (Source: Flickr)
A 28nm chipset. (Source: Flickr)
The current US administration put Huawei on its Entity List, which ultimately led to the OEM being cut off from vital suppliers such as TSMC. However, that company has now obtained a license to once again sell to the Chinese electronics giant. Then again, the terms of this new allowance may render it considerably less of a reprieve for Huawei than it sounds.

Update: TSMC has responded to us at NBC dismissing the original report claiming it could supply Huawei with wafers, albeit from "mature" nodes only as "based on groundless market speculation". The same article has also subsequently been pulled from the media outlet in question. This, then, apparently leaves both parties involved in a state of business as usual.

Original Article: Huawei's blacklisting on the part of the existing US government has ramifications that include a complete loss of access to shipments from firms such as the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which had heretofore made the OEM's custom-designed SoCs such as the Kirin series for its mobile devices to order for it. However, following a cut-off point that fell in mid-September 2020, TSMC has been unable to fulfil any of these orders, leading to a chipset crisis at the Chinese electronics behemoth.

This shortage is reportedly keenly felt at the upper ends of Huawei's smartphones: it may limit the availability of upcoming Mate 40 phablets with cutting-edge Kirin 9000 processors, especially as that series may have to vie for the same chipsets with the Mate X2 premium foldable device that may also launch soon.

Therefore, a new report from indicating that TSMC has obtained a specific license that allows it to once again ship orders to Huawei may sound like a huge let-off. A relief for both parties involved, in fact, as the former has reportedly posted record takings due to its business with the latter for the third quarter of 2020. However, this new provision from the US authorities apparently has a serious caveat.

According to Sina, the foundry can only offer Huawei the fruits of its "mature" nodes. Their definition is not entirely clear; however, there is speculation that what is meant here is TSMC's lines that produce wafers based on processes of 28 nanometers (nm) and older. That's 28nm: the outdated, outsized architecture associated with products such as the Tegra K1 that seem to come from the deep past at this point.

Should this be correct, it is possible that there is no point at all in Huawei (or TSMC) taking this new opportunity up at all. 28nm mobile processors are not likely to compete in the prevailing climate at all, especially not now as TSMC is preparing to upgrade to 3nm at its own cutting edge. Therefore, it seems like no steps forward and nothing back for the troubled OEM with this new development.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 10 > TSMC can do business with Huawei again, but with a reportedly epic twist
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2020-10-11 (Update: 2020-10-22)