Jun 19, 2019 07:48 PM

Chip-Designer ARM Breaks Silence on Huawei Ties

The Kirin series chips launched by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon last year were based on ARM designs  Photo: IC Photo
The Kirin series chips launched by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon last year were based on ARM designs Photo: IC Photo

The president of chip-designer ARM Holdings PLC has struck a cautious tone regarding its future relationship with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., after the BBC reported it would sever business ties with the Chinese telecom giant following an export ban by the U.S. government.

In an exclusive interview with Caixin last week, ARM President Graham Budd — who is also the company’s chief operating officer — said the company was evaluating its options and seeking a “swift solution” from policymakers.

They’re the first public comments made by an ARM executive after the U.S. government last month placed Huawei on an export blacklist that effectively banned the Chinese company from doing business with U.S. companies from chipmaker Qualcomm to Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Following the U.S. announcement, the BBC reported that ARM had told staff to suspend business with Huawei, citing an internal document that referenced the fact their designs contained technology with a “U.S. origin.”

Budd told Caixin that although ARM is headquartered in the U.K., the U.S. blacklisting would impact the company because ARM operates globally and has many researchers based in the U.S.

ARM has been an important partner for Huawei. ARM’s designs are the basis of the central processing units in 90% of the world’s mobile handsets, and Huawei is no exception. ARM also plays a significant role in the Chinese company’s efforts to develop its own chips as part of its plan to circumvent technology blocks from the U.S.

For example, the Kirin series chips launched by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon for its own smartphones last year were based on ARM designs.

Asked whether the U.S. export ban would affect ARM’s business in China, Budd said the company would continue investing in the country and work together with Chinese companies but did not specifically say it would continue to work with Huawei.

ARM set up a China subsidiary in Shanghai in 2002. But in June of last year it said it would sell a majority stake of the unit to a Chinese-led group for $775 million.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (

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