Teardown confirms Huawei's Pura 70 contains SMIC 7nm process node

'Remarkably similar' to the Kirin 9000 processor that shocked many last year

A teardown of Huawei's Pura 70 smartphone by an IC research firm revealed the Chinese tech giant is relying on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp's (SMIC) HiSilicon Kirin 9010 processor, likely because US sanctions mean the Chinese company can't buy from other sources.

"Following the technical analysis of the Huawei Pura 70 Ultra, we can confirm with high confidence that the HiSilicon Kirin 9010 system-on-chip (SoC) is manufactured using SMIC's 7nm N+2 process node," declared Canada-headquartered TechInsights on Saturday.

The firm's analysis saw it pick apart the phone to confirm its components. It called the markings on the Kirin 9010 "technically new but remarkably similar" to those found on the Kirin 9000 series, the unexpectedly sophisticated chip that debuted in the Mate 60 Pro handset last year.

The analysis reflects findings in Chinese media reports from earlier this month – around the time the phone was released. Users who tore down the Pura 70 in the Middle Kingdom found the Kirin 9010 with Arm v8 cores – four running at 1.55GHz, six at 2.18GHz, and a couple at 2.30GHz.

The author of TechInsight's report, Dan Hutcheson, was involved last September in the reporting of a teardown of the Mate 60 Pro. That analysis exposed Huawei's use of Kirin 9000s in the phone and solidified proof of SMIC's ability to produce 7nm system-on-chips.

It was a revelation that sent the US government into a tailspin, as it would indicate that China may actually be capable of high-end domestic chip manufacturing.

However, a follow-up teardown of Huawei's Qingyun L540 notebook found a 5nm Kirin 9006C processor – a product TechInsights referred to as a "repackaged" Kirin 9000 processor made by Taiwan-based TSMC.

"Huawei has totally broken free from US sanctions in China's markets," Hutcheson reportedly deduced. "But it's still being held back by US sanctions in world markets."

The chip expert cited lack of advanced node density, power, performance and cost as supply chain challenges faced by Huawei.

While Samsung currently claims the top position in global smartphone shipments, analyst firms International Data Corporation (IDC) and Canalys last week found Huawei has become China’s number one smartphone brand measured by shipments.

Arthur Guo, senior research analyst in Client System Research for IDC China, described Huawei as making a "strong comeback" as it grew 110 percent year-on-year to essentially tie with Honor in the top spot in China, each holding around 17 percent of the quarterly market share.

Guo conceded that "supply constraints will still be a pain point" for Huawei. ®

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