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‘Slap in the face for US’: China may have cracked how to make complex silicon chips, shows Huawei

In collaboration with China’s leading chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp or SMIC, Huawei Technologies has produced an advanced 7-nanometer processor for its latest smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro. This development represents a significant step forward in China’s efforts to establish a domestic chip ecosystem, as noted by analysis firm TechInsights.

The Kirin 9000s chip, manufactured by SMIC, powers the Mate 60 Pro and is the first to utilize SMIC’s most advanced 7nm technology. This achievement underscores China’s progress in developing its semiconductor capabilities.

People who regularly follow tech will realize that 2023, we will get smartphones made using 3nm technology. Most of the world already uses 5nm fabricated chips in higher-end smartphones.

What makes the Huawei 7nm process unique is that it managed to create a chip this thin while being placed under some of the harshest sanctions, with no technological or fabrication assistance, at least on paper.

And even though Pro is using older technology, it performs better than most current 5G smartphones.

Chinese consumers who have purchased the Mate 60 Pro have posted teardown videos and conducted speed tests on social media, indicating that the smartphone can achieve download speeds that surpass those of top-tier 5G phones.

While the Mate 60 Pro’s specifications highlighted its ability to make satellite calls, they did not provide detailed information about the chipset’s power.

The launch of the Mate 60 Pro generated significant excitement on Chinese social media platforms and among state media, with some noting its timing alongside a visit by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Since 2019, the US has restricted Huawei’s access to essential chipmaking tools required for producing advanced handset models. However, research firms previously suggested that Huawei was planning a return to the 5G smartphone market by the end of the year, leveraging its advancements in semiconductor design tools and collaborating with SMIC for chip production.

According to Dan Hutcheson, an analyst with TechInsights, this development sends a clear message. It is “a slap to the face for the US,” particularly in the context of Secretary Raimondo’s visit. It demonstrates Huawei’s capability to innovate and develop cutting-edge technology without reliance on US resources.

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