Why does ARMs ban on Huawei have no real effect?

 Why does ARMs ban on Huawei have no real effect?


Today, Huaweis technology embargo in the United States has risen to a new global level.

According to the BBC, Arm, a British technology company wholly owned by Softbank, sent an internal letter to employees asking them to stop all contracts, technical support and business contacts with Huawei and its subsidiaries.

As a chip giant in the mobile computing industry, Arm licenses well-known technology companies to use its chip design and instruction set architecture. Arms intellectual property rights are at the bottom of Qualcomm, Apple A processors, and global 4G and future 5G base stations.

The Qilin processor developed by Huawei also uses Arm instruction set architecture (ISA). This is because ARM and Intels x86 are the only instruction set architecture supported by Android, which is the most popular mobile operating system in the world.

If Huawei mobile phone wants to pre-install Android operating system, it must adopt ARM architecture processor, whether self-produced or purchased from Qualcomm.

It looks like Huaweis Kirin and smartphone businesses will be hit hard. But in fact, given the complexity of the global technology licensing cooperation system and the mechanism Arm has adopted as an authorizer, Huawei is likely to survive the technology embargo for a considerable period of time.

Because of Arms authorization model, the companys internal ban on Huawei has no substantial impact on Huaweis ability to continue to use the ARM architecture to produce processors.

Arm is a chip designer, not a manufacturer. It is the companys business model to sell rights to use Arm intellectual property to global technology companies.

In order to meet the needs of different customers, Arm designed a complex authorization model.

For example, universities, non-profit research institutes and start-ups can license Arm through two basic free modes of academic research and design Start for research purposes and for prototyping purposes; for-profit companies, multiple or one-time use authorizations are used to obtain authorization for a specified number of products within a specified period of time; and Arm has also introduced an annual fee model (subs). Cription) helps companies save large deposit fees.

At the top of the pyramid is the instruction set architecture authorization model adopted by 15 top global technology companies such as Huawei. In this mode, Arm gives Huawei a large amount of knowledge authorization of instruction set architecture without strict restrictions on its use. In this way, companies like Huawei and Apple can customize processors to suit their needs. Of course, the licensing fee of this model is the most expensive.

According to industry sources, instruction set architecture authorization mode is authorized according to the version of instruction set architecture, and the effect is permanent.

At present, Arm has released the highest version of instruction set architecture for ARMv8, released in 2011, the main 64-bit processing to reduce power consumption, and support more than 4 GB of memory. Huawei was authorized in 2013 and has since produced a large number of Kirin processors based on ARMv8.

Arms internal ban does not affect Huaweis design, development and installation of processors on mobile phones based on the authorized ARMv8 instruction set architecture. Considering that the release time of ARMv9 is not yet determined, and the processor technologies of Qualcomm, Apple and Huawei Kirin are still being updated (even many ARMv7 processors are still in service), ARMv8 is still far from scrapping.

In theory, Huawei could continue to design and produce Kirin processors using the ARMv8 instruction set architecture until the current technological embargo was lifted. This means that Arms ban will have no real effect on Huawei, at least in the short term.

On the other hand, the official release time of ARMv9 is expected to be between 2020 and 2021, while the contract between Arm and the authorized party will take as little as half a year, possibly as long as two or three years. Therefore, the termination of Arms dialogue and cooperation with Huawei is bound to delay the technological upgrading of Huaweis processors and reduce the market competitiveness of Huaweis future processors and smartphones.

Source: Silicon Star Responsible Editor: Qiao Junjie_NBJ11279