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China’s Huawei To Get 5nm Processor Despite US Ban

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China's Huawei To Get 5nm Processor Despite US Ban

(CTN News) – SMIC, a Chinese Huawei semiconductor foundry, has achieved a significant technological breakthrough by successfully developing a 5nm process technology, despite facing challenges posed by the US ban.

This milestone was evident when a new Huawei laptop, powered by an advanced chip manufactured using the 5nm process, was recently listed. This accomplishment was previously deemed unattainable due to the sanctions imposed by the United States.

Earlier this year, SMIC garnered attention by commencing mass production of Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 9000S processor, utilizing their second-generation 7nm process technology. Now, it appears that the company has made further progress, either by already implementing or nearing the completion of a sophisticated 5nm fabrication process.

To emphasize this achievement, Huawei’s website now showcases a chip created using a 5nm-class process node. This chip, known as the eight-core Arm-based HiSilicon Kirin 9000C processor, is equipped with Arm Mali-G78 graphics and is specifically designed for laptop usage.

The listing for the Huawei Qingyun L540 laptop in question states that it possesses this remarkable chip.

The Kirin 9006C, a recently developed processor, incorporates general-purpose cores that can reach a maximum frequency of 3.13 GHz.

This clock speed is slightly lower than the achievement of TSMC and Apple with their original TSMC N5 process technology, where Apple’s M1 high-performance cores reached a peak of 3.20 GHz. Moreover, the top clock rate of the Kirin 9006C is comparable to that of the Kirin 9000, another chip manufactured by TSMC for Huawei.

During the early second quarter of 2020, when TSMC began mass production of its N5 (5nm-class) fabrication technology, Huawei was not yet blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Consequently, TSMC was able to supply its 5nm chips in large quantities, including to Huawei.

In late August 2020, officially launched its Kirin 9000 SoC, which was based on TSMC’s N5 technology and confirmed to be produced in Taiwan.

The similarities between the Kirin 9000 and Kirin 9006C have led to speculation that Huawei may be utilizing chip stock from three years ago for its current PC offerings.

However, this scenario seems unlikely as it would not be practical to store large quantities of high-end processors, which were expensive to produce using TSMC’s advanced technology at that time, for such a prolonged period.

Furthermore, the original Kirin 9000 included a built-in 5G modem, a feature that the Kirin 9006C likely lacks, making it more suitable for high-end smartphones rather than budget laptops.

Therefore, it is plausible that Huawei has enlisted the services of SMIC to manufacture these newer processors.

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