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[Analysis] ARM suspends chip architecture cooperation and jeopardizes Huawei's "prepared tire plan"

via:CnBeta     time:2019/5/23 7:02:35     readed:190

ARM's design is the foundation of most mobile device chips in the world today. Many of the chips designed by Huawei's HiSilicon are manufactured using ARM's basic technology and require a patent license fee.

In the exposed documents, ARM officially instructed employees to suspend “all valid contracts, support allowances, and any unsigned contracts” with Huawei and its subsidiaries to comply with a recent US trade restriction.

Some analysts said that if this action is implemented for a long time, it will be an "insurmountable" blow for Huawei.

Prior to being acquired by Sunsoft's Softbank, Cambridge-based ARM has been known as the UK's largest technology company.

Why does a British company acquired by a Japanese company choose to comply with US measures?

The company said in a memo that their design includes "American origin technology." Therefore, they believe they have been affected by the Trump government ban. In addition, the company has 6,000 employees and has eight offices in the United States.

ARM said in a statement that it is "complying with all the latest regulations set by the US government," but declined to comment further.

Huawei also issued a short statement:

We value close relationships with our partners, but we also recognize the pressure on some of them due to politically motivated decisions.

We believe that this regrettable situation can be resolved, and our top priority remains to continue to provide world-class technology and products to our global customers.

Who is ARM?

ARM is a chip manufacturer founded in 1990, formerly Acorn Computers of the United Kingdom.

In the late 1980s, Acorn and Apple collaborated to develop the ARM core. In 1990, ARM was split from Acorn and became an independent subsidiary. Apple also holds an ARM stake.

In September 2016, ARM was acquired by Sunsoft's Softbank for 24.3 billion pounds (212.1 billion yuan), but the current headquarters is still in Cambridge, England.

ARM itself does not manufacture computer chips. Its main business is to license its semiconductor technology, package and sell technology and tools. Enterprises that buy it can use ARM technology for a certain period of time.

And this technology is also famous in the chip industry.ARM architecture.

According to the ARM market share announced by Softbank 2017 World Congress, ARM architecture is smartMobile phoneBoth modems and modems accounted for more than 99%, while market share on in-vehicle smart hardware and wearables exceeded 95% and 90%, respectively.

Sometimes, chip manufacturers only need to get an ARM-licensed architecture or "instruction set" that determines how the processor handles the commands. In this case, the chip manufacturer can get the maximum design freedom.

In addition, manufacturers can also apply for ARM processor core design authorization, that is, chip transistor layout, and then combine with other components to create a chip system.

Therefore, Qualcomm Xiaolong, Apple A series, Huawei Unicorn, Samsung Exynos, which are mainly used in mobile phones, or other semiconductor companies such as Intel, IBM, Fujitsu, LG, etc., all of them have ARM technology, as long as these Chip manufacturers have been using ARM technology, ARM can be invincible, lying to make money.

In other words, the lifeblood of these chip manufacturers is also in the hands of ARM.

ARM's US headquarters are located in San Jose, Calif., with offices in Washington, Arizona, Texas, and Massachusetts. It is for this reason that ARM's design is linked to Trump's ban.

"Unfortunate situation"

After the US Department of Commerce added Huawei to the "list of entities" and restricted its purchase of US technology, ARM staff was notified of this decision on May 16.

The foreign media BBC also confirmed that it has seen ARM's May 18 memorandum explaining in detail the impact of the export ban.

On Tuesday, May 21, the US Department of Commerce announced a 90-day "limited exemption" period for Huawei to temporarily allow Huawei to purchase US-made goods.

But a source from ARM said that the staff has not been told that they can continue to cooperate with Huawei or its subsidiaries.

The ARM spokesperson also refused to disclose the status quo with the current Huawei contract.

A memo shows that there are employees at the top that instruct ARM to suspend all interactions with Huawei and its subsidiaries.

The instructions received by ARM employees instructed them to inform Huawei (or related) employees due to "Unfortunate situation", they can't "provide support delivery technology (whether software, code or other updates), participate in technical discussions, or discuss technical issues with Huawei, HiSilicon or any other designated entity."

ARM employees who are in contact with Huawei employees in industry activities must “politely refuse and stop” any conversations about the business, and may emphasize that individuals may be personally liable for violating the trading rules.

The ban also appears to apply to ARM China, a joint venture with the China Investment Consortium last year, and ARM has a 49% stake, which is designed to enable ARM to support product development and sales in China.

Insurmountable obstacle

Huawei previously disclosed the company's "B plan", that is, the development of its own operating system, and it has been a while. However, it is difficult for Huawei to purchase domestically produced components of sufficient quality.

Huawei is currently purchasing some chips from its subsidiary, HiSilicon. However, HiSilicon's chips use the underlying technology of ARM.

Although Hisilicon and Huawei can continue to use and manufacture existing chips, the latest ban means that development hardware support will no longer be available from ARM.

According to the latest information released by ARM, the market share of ARM mobile phone processors in 2017 is over 90%, and 95% of SoCs designed in China are based on ARM technology.

Not only is the mobile phone CPU Kirin processor used ARM architecture, GPU, baseband chip and peripheral chip have ARM license. Other smart devices, such as smart watches,routerThey are also using ARM architecture processors.

In the field of automatic driving, ARM's market share accounts for 50%. onlyserverThe market has not opened, the market share is only 1%, but Huawei's self-developed server chip 鲲鹏920 is using ARM architecture.

In the second half of this year, Huawei equipment will use the Kirin 985 chip that Shanghai Si will launch soon. According to ARM sources, the chip is not expected to be affected by the ban.

However, sources said that Huawei's next-generation chips have not yet been completed, and may need to design from scratch.

The relationship between ARM and Huawei engineers is very tight now. Just earlier this month, Huawei also announced plans to establish a research center near the ARM headquarters in Cambridge, England.

"ARM is the foundation of Huawei's smartphone chip design, so this is an insurmountable obstacle for Huawei," said Geoff Blaber, vice president and researcher for semiconductor industry at CCS Insight, a research firm.

"That is, Huawei's operational capabilities have been severely affected by the fact that a large number of companies in the Huawei supply chain have taken action to comply with the US ban."

It is still unclear whether ARM’s cooperation with Huawei has been based on its own interpretation of the US ban or a notice from the US Department of Commerce.

Lee Ratliff, an analyst from IHS Markit, commented: "If this explanation is correct, it will affect every semiconductor company in the world. They can't easily replace these parts with new internal designs. China's semiconductor industry has just been Start."

There are also comments that Trump, an anti-globalization, is using globalization to achieve its goals.

Huawei is holding on!

Severe challenges At present, Huawei has only one choice: to live and to tide over the difficulties.

Knowing the central processor (CPU) topic, the excellent respondent @JZWSVIC said that the current situation isDon't be too pessimisticBecause Huawei has obtained a permanent license for the ARM architecture.

JZWSVIC analysis said that the existing instruction set has not been affected, in fact, already contains the basic instructions of the ARM instruction system, mainly because the subsequent extended instruction set may not be authorized.

In other words, if Huawei has the strength, it can carry out its own similar expansion. After defining the instruction set, the self-developed execution unit and the pipeline path can just test the strength of the self-developed architecture and compiler.

More than one person agrees with this view. Some netizens said that it can be seen that starting from the Kirin 980 chip, Huawei began to aggressively "magic change" the ARM underlying instruction set.

From Huawei's permanent license to buy the ARMv8 architecture, it can be seen that this is for the futureGet rid of ARM clampmore convenient.

Weibo netizens said that if Huawei successfully robs, Huawei will be sealed, and the development of China's high-tech technology will usher in spring.

If Huawei's robbery fails, China's high-tech enterprises such as Dajiang behind Huawei will also be killed. China's high-tech will no longer have a good day to rely on foreign countries. China will be arbitrarily drawn by capitalist countries.

This is the situation of Huawei.Huawei is the leader of this "war" and cannot fall..

The real pain point is not ARM, but the research of basic subjects:

There will be nothing ARM for a long time:

There were more than one person who chose to cheer for Huawei in the first place.

I believe that there is no reason to be trusted. I hope that I am prepared for this winter. It is really difficult.

It’s really invincible for Huawei to survive this difficult time, hopefully.

Huawei is stunned! ! !

For Huawei, ARM's outage is also a turning point. At the same time, it gave Huawei two things: one is an opportunity and the other is a challenge.

The day will be reduced to the people of the S, also must first bitter their minds, labor and strength.

In the buffer period from the old architecture to the self-developed new architecture, Huawei is holding on! overcome obstacles!

related articles:

ARM suspends cooperation with Huawei, which may affect the future development of Huawei mobile phones

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