Twist my Arm why don't you: Brit CPU behemoth latest biz to cease work with Huawei – report

Leaked staff memo reveals immediate halt to co-operation


Updated Brit chip designer Arm has now severed its links with Huawei in accordance with US sanctions, depriving the Chinese smartphone maker of a crucial supplier.

Arm employees were ordered to stop work on "all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements" on 16 May, according to the BBC.

A British behemoth in CPU design, Arm is estimated to make up around half of the entire market. With US sanctions on Huawei having prompted the Japanese-owned, Cambridge-headquartered company to halt co-operation with the Chinese tech firm, this is the business equivalent of an unexpected kick to the bollocks.

Arm declined to answer questions, sending us a prepared statement that said: "Arm is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government." It did not elaborate as to whether this only affects Arm's US operations or the entire global company has been dragged in.

Huawei did not comment, despite our cunningly worded invitations to do so.

Coming hot on the heels of Google's US-inspired decision to block Huawei from future releases of Android, the timing and targets are clear: America wants to immediately impact Huawei's consumer lines of business as a means of keeping its trade war high in the headlines.

Despite the immediate US reprieve on Huawei sanctions through a 90-day delaying order, Arm staff reportedly told the Beeb that they had not been given permission to restart co-operation.

Huawei does design its own smartphone CPUs through its HiSilicon subsidiary – but, like competitor Qualcomm and other industry players, it licenses Arm patents for use in its homegrown chips. Nonetheless, Arm staff were reportedly told that they could not "provide support, delivery technology (whether software, code, or other updates), engage in technical discussions, or otherwise discuss technical matters with Huawei, HiSilicon or any of the other named entities".

HiSilicon, a fabless chip design outfit, enjoyed revenues of $1.75bn in Q1 this year. ®

Updated at 15.02 BST to add

Huawei sent us this statement following publication:

"We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognise the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions. We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world.”

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