Intel fuels Huawei's AI PC ambitions with Meteor Lake CPUs in MateBook X Pro

But for how much longer?

Intel's Meteor Lake-based Core Ultra CPUs will power Huawei's newest MateBook X Pro, the company's first AI PC.

The MateBook X Pro will run on Huawei's own HarmonyOS and integrate its Pangu large language model (LLM), providing similar functionality to Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT per Nikkei. It appears to be a high-end thin and light laptop, equipped with a Core Ultra 9 CPU (the highest tier in the Core Ultra 100 series), a 3K OLED screen, and a price tag of ¥14,999, or just over $2,000 today.

Huawei made many comparisons between its latest laptop and Apple's MacBooks. In particular, it bragged about how much better the MateBook X Pro's OLED screen was than the MacBook Air's LCD, and that the Core Ultra 9 chip was 27 percent faster than the M3 Pro-powered MacBook Pro in 4K video editing. The MateBook X Pro is apparently much lighter than the MacBook Pro 14, at 980 grams versus the latter's 1,600 grams.

That Huawei has access to Intel's latest AI-powered chips is notable as the US government has been making efforts to cut Huawei off completely from Western technology. However, Intel has had a special export license to send Huawei CPUs since late 2020 during the final days of the Trump administration, according to Reuters. Ever since, Intel has been able to ship Huawei its chips, including 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs from 2021 and 13th Gen Raptor Lake processors from 2022.

This export license grants Intel a de facto exclusive partnership with Huawei, something that its fellow x86 CPU maker and rival AMD has been very unhappy about. AMD applied for an export license like Intel's once President Biden took office, but never got a reply. The company estimated as of early 2023 that it had lost the opportunity to sell just over half a billion dollars in chips to Huawei.

This export license doesn't last forever, though, and it will expire later this year unless Intel renews it. However, sources speaking to Reuters expect that the license won't be renewed, either because Intel won't pursue it or because the federal government won't approve it. Additionally, the Commerce Department was pursuing the revocation of Intel's license, and while those plans have been canceled, Reuters reports they could be revived later.

For Huawei, it's a precarious position to be in. Committing further to Intel–powered laptops in the face of its supply line being cut would likely necessitate importing as many as possible before Intel's export license evaporates. As China's third largest laptop maker, it's going to need lots of chips stockpiled to keep up with demand.

Huawei is still selling laptops with TSMC-made chips from its 2020 stockpiling episode, so perhaps it's not such a tall order. At some point, however, it seems Huawei will have to start making its own Kirin chips for its laptops. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like