US lawmakers rage over Intel Meteor Lake-powered Huawei PC

Special export license granted to Intel by President Trump unlikely to be renewed

Huawei's launch of its newest MateBook Pro X, which uses Intel's latest Meteor Lake CPU has invoked the ire of Republican members of Congress in the US.

Revealed last week, the brand-new Huawei laptop is notable for using one of Intel's current-generation Meteor Lake-based Core Ultra processors, which have a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) for speeding up AI workloads.

While Huawei's access to Western technology is greatly restricted by US sanctions, it can still buy Intel CPUs thanks to a license it has had since late 2020.

That Huawei was able to utilize Intel's latest CPU has sparked uproar from Republican legislators, as per Reuters. "One of the greatest mysteries in Washington, DC is why the Department of Commerce continues to allow U.S. technology to be shipped to Huawei," said House representative Michael Gallagher, chair of the China select committee, in a statement.

Another Republican House rep, Michael McCaul, reportedly said: "Two years ago, I was told licenses to Huawei would stop. Today, it doesn't seem as though the policy has changed."

Huawei is able to still obtain Intel CPUs thanks to a special export license President Trump granted to Intel towards the end of his term. The license is set to expire later this year as it seems unlikely Intel would request its renewal or that the Commerce Department would approve it.

While the Biden administration wasn't responsible for issuing the export license, the Commerce Department was planning to revoke it at some point last year. However, those plans were cancelled by the end of 2023, allowing Intel to still sell its chips to Huawei through 2024. It's unknown why these plans were dropped, but perhaps it's because the expiration date was already close at hand.

The Commerce Department attempted to soothe angry lawmakers last week by sending Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Kevin Kurland to a Senate subcommittee meeting. Kurland claimed the export restrictions existed to only prevent Huawei from engaging in "malign activities" and not to completely immobilize the Chinese tech giant.

Even when its access to Intel CPUs ends later this year, Huawei could fill the gap with its own silicon. Huawei is now making Kirin 9000S smartphone chips on SMIC's latest 7nm process, though apparently it can't be produced in great quantities according to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

However, that could change in the future as Huawei invests R&D funds into chipmaking tools, understood to be part of a campaign to create China's own extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines.

Switching to EUV would be a substantial upgrade for SMIC's 7nm node, which reportedly uses older deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography and thus suffers from reduced yields. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like