Chinese Co. Huawei Ties Up With European STMicro To Co-Design Mobile And Automotive-Related Chips

Chinese telecommunications and networking giant Huawei has reportedly tied-up with European chipmaker STMicroelectronics. Together the companies will design, develop, and fabricate processors and related chips for mobiles as well as the automotive industry. There appears to be a multi-fold benefit for Huawei in the deal.

Huawei has now tied up with French-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics. The duo has agreed to co-design mobile and automotive-related chips. Incidentally, STMicroelectronics has been a longtime supplier for Huawei. However, the collaboration between the two will reportedly benefit Huawei, which being a Chinese company, has been facing a lot of criticism for allegedly using weakly secured networking hardware for next-generation mobile communication standards.

Huawei Ties Up With European STMicro To Protect Itself From US Trade Sanctions?

Huawei has reportedly tied up with STMicroelectronics, a European company. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the duo formulated a partnership late last year. However, both the companies have remained silent about the collaboration. Interestingly, Huawei appears to have signed the partnership agreement to bolster its position in the Western Markets and ensure it would remain an active player in the region.

Huawei appears to be clearly protecting its interests amidst the ongoing trade war between the U.S and China. Both countries haven’t yet reached an agreement, and hence companies in China have had to face uncertainty about long-term contracts. Moreover, tighter U.S. restrictions could include mandating key chip manufacturers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., to apply for licenses if using U.S. equipment to build chips for Huawei.

Tying up with STMicroelectronics could help shield Huawei from a U.S. crackdown. Huawei has been traditionally designing its own chips. The company’s subsidiary, HiSilicon, is tasked with developing the SoCs that go into the latest smartphones and other electronics that require wireless communication and data transmission. Huawei also makes and deploys base stations and towers that offer mobile telecommunications.

To date, Huawei has been designing them mainly in-house and ordering its products directly from contract chipmakers. However, collaborating with STMicroelectronics could help the company cut down on the development as well as fabrication time.

Moreover, the partnership also reportedly enables Huawei to secure access to the latest software needed for developing advanced chips. This is because the software is mainly provided by two U.S. companies, Synopsys and Cadence Design Systems. Speaking about the as-yet-unannounced partnership, a person familiar with the matter said,

“Such chip joint-development would give Huawei more flexibility to help itself if the U.S. later presses the nuclear option to block Huawei’s key chip contract manufacturers from producing chips for it unless they can obtain licenses. No one knows what the new export control regulations will be and if these efforts will work, but from Huawei’s point of view, it needs to try to secure more sources of possibilities for those crucial chips. Forging a close tie with STMicro is also a great opportunity for Huawei to hasten [its effort to] build automotive chips, a relatively new attempt in Huawei’s product road maps.”

Huawei And STMicroelectronics To Jointly Develop And Fabricate Mobile And And Automotive-Related Chips?

The rapidly emerging autonomous vehicle or self-driving car segment is also attracting Huawei. According to regional reports, Huawei is making a big push in autonomous driving to beat its foreign and domestic rivals. Its partnership with STMicroelectronics should significantly accelerate its plans.

STMicroelectronics is a leading automotive semiconductor provider to Tesla and BMW. Working with the European company could not only help Huawei safeguard itself from the ongoing U.S-China trade war but also help it become a much stronger player in the autonomous driving segment with comparatively lesser efforts.

In addition to the silicon chips for the automobile industry, Huawei is reportedly interested in developing processors or even entire System on a Chip (SoC) for smartphones. In fact, among the first joint development projects is mobile-related chips for Huawei’s Honor line of smartphones, claimed the person familiar with the developments.

Alap Naik Desai
A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.