Arm said to have suspended business with Huawei in potentially crushing blow

Jeannie Matthews
May 23, 2019

SoftBank Group Corp. -owned chip designer ARM will comply with the Trump administration's order to stop supplying Huawei Technologies Co. with technology vital to the manufacture of the Chinese company's products.

Update #1, May 22, 2019, 08:09 a.m. ET: In an emailed statement, an Arm spokesperson told Android Authority, "Arm is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the USA government".

ARM didn't send a new memo in response to the 90-day temporary license the USA issued to let Huawei suppliers do business with the company. Regular HEXUS readers will know that Huawei designs its own HiSilicon Kirin processors but they are based upon Arm designs, for which it pays a license fee. ARM staff have also been instructed to "politely decline" and end conversations related to business with Huawei employees at industry events.

The upcoming Kirin 985 chip is unaffected, but Huawei would be unable to use ARM technology in future iterations.

Huawei said it valued its close relationships with its partners, but it recognized the pressure some of them are under "as a result of politically motivated decisions".

For more, read why we think losing Arm is a bigger deal than losing Google for Huawei.

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ARM's interpretation of the U.S. export ban comes as a surprise, as the company is not based in the US.

It has been reported that the memo was sent out to workers on May 16 last week, and even with the 90-day temporary reprieve granted by the US, ARM employees have not been told they can resume work with Huawei. Huawei, meanwhile, "is not commenting at this time". "We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved", they added.

It might seem weird for a Japanese-owned company based in the United Kingdom to cut ties with a Chinese firm because of US trade restrictions.

The sky has been falling recently for Huawei, the Chinese tech firm that has been accused of having ties to the Chinese government. Huawei's said to have three months' worth.

The US government has put Huawei on the "Entity list" thus banning any company from doing business with the firm without express approval from the government. These licenses are critical to the development of smartphone CPUs in GPUs - the vast majority of smartphone makers use Arm's designs.

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