US set to avert Huawei from getting 5nm chips with further restrictions after the Mate 60 Pro

US set to avert Huawei from getting 5nm chips with further restrictions after the Mate 60 Pro
Remember the Huawei Mate 60 Pro? Yeah, if you do not, let me assure you that there isn’t a shortage of US officials who can’t suppress the memory of the Mate 60 Pro and I bet they’re getting the night sweats. After all, the Mate 60 Pro wasn’t supposed to be in light of all the US sanctions on China and Huawei, yet it materialized in 2023.

Now, US targets China's top chipmaking plant after Huawei Mate 60 Pro, reports Reuters.

The Biden administration is turning up the heat on China's top-sanctioned chipmaker – the SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp). The US officials are set to cut off SMIC’s most advanced factory from getting more American imports. That’s because SMIC produced a sophisticated chip for Huawei's Mate 60 Pro, three people familiar with the matter said for Reuters.

That’s in tune with the recent revelations that China’s SMIC is about to produce a 5nm chipset for Huawei’s upcoming smartphones. This 5nm Kirin chipset could result, at least in theory, in a serious performance for Huawei phones in 2024 as it gets closer to the 3nm A17 Pro SoC that Apple currently uses to power the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, and the 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Dimensity 9300 chipsets designed by Qualcomm and MediaTek respectively.

“Dozens of letters”

After the Mate 60 Pro bombastic unveiling, the Commerce Department allegedly sent dozens of letters to US suppliers to SMIC, suspending permission to sell US high-tech goods to SMIC’s most advanced plant, said two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it all publicly.

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While many companies had already stopped selling to SMIC South, as the unit is known, the letters halted millions of dollars worth of shipments of chipmaking materials and parts from at least one supplier, Entegris, one of the people said. The Reuters report explicitly says it has found “no evidence that Entegris had violated any U.S. laws or regulations”.

Entegris said it made the shipments following a valid export license and halted them after receiving letters from the Commerce Department suspending permission to send products to SMIC South.

Entegris produces the building blocks for making chips: filters, gases, chemicals, and products for handling wafers, said it monitors and complies with the “rapidly evolving regulatory requirements” for international trade affecting the chip industry.

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