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Mediatek goes all in with request to supply chips to Huawei

Taiwanese chip-maker Mediatek reportedly thinks it can supply Huawei without getting put on the US naughty step, but is double-checking just to make sure.

The report comes courtesy of Reuters, which says Mediatek has applied for permission from the US to keep supplying Huawei with chips. “MediaTek reiterates its respect for following relevant orders and rules on global trade, and has already applied for permission with the U.S. side in accordance with the rules,” it said in a statement given to Reuters.

Mediatek would presumably only bother to ask if it thought it could supply chips free of any American intellectual property. Earlier this month Uncle Sam made it clear that he will bring his full wrath to bear on anyone who thinks about selling Huawei any kit that the US has had even the most superficial involvement in.

There’s a hell of a lot of cleverness that goes into making the system-on-chips in today’s smartphones. Many of the processors themselves have been designed by Anglo-Japanese company Arm and they can be manufactured by Chinese fabs if need be. However there is presumably US IP involved somewhere in the process, even if its only in specialist machines made by companies like Applied Materials.

The response to this request will presumably answer that question conclusively, because you can bet Mediatek’s processes will be heavily scrutinised by US authorities as a result. If they refuse the request there will be a fair bit of pressure on them to comprehensively demonstrate why. If they don’t, it will then be reasonable to question the entire basis of this latest US action against Huawei.


43 comments

  1. Avatar James Crawshaw 28/08/2020 @ 2:44 pm

    Less than 1% of ARM employees are based in Japan. Ownership by a Japanese conglomerate does not make ARM Japanese. Not that being Japanese is bad. Far from it. A lot of good tech comes from Japan. 35% of employees are in the UK and 22% in US, approximately. So I guess you can call it a multi-national.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 28/08/2020 @ 2:47 pm

      Great points James.

      • Avatar Davina Theriaque 29/08/2020 @ 4:09 pm

        thanks for correcting half truths. That the media seems to think its ok to be reporting like high schoolers. Or grade school investigating

    • Avatar Simon Low 29/08/2020 @ 3:25 am

      That’s some good pointers James. But if the world is so fastidious of which nationality are involve in the making of such tech then we will have to dive quite deep in the entire process of procurement, funds that belonging to certain entities that made it happen and many more.. soon we all be arguing who crack the first poop. The part of who was involved in building the product is irrelevant and irresponsible by certain quarters making it all jingoistic.

      • Avatar Greg Zeng 30/08/2020 @ 2:25 am

        Simon Low would like to believe that nationalism should not be important. Unfortunately democracy is about small mindedness. Humanity loves these emotional obsessions. This reality makes it so difficult for those who know that there is more to living than emotions.

  2. Avatar Michael Page 28/08/2020 @ 6:32 pm

    I think that referring to ARM as a Japanese company is correct. Multi national corporations are generally labelled as the nationality under which their parent company is registered in.
    Huawei is almost always referred to as being a Chinese company yet they have a multi national employee workforce and operate all over the world.

  3. Avatar Hewlett D. Brewster 28/08/2020 @ 7:34 pm

    I never think Uncle Sam with take credit and control of a legal American company trying to do business with a foreign company that was put on the black list because of there superior cellphones, and actually trying to put them out of business, or there low tech security there of, like hackers never hack anything else electronical

    • Avatar Greg Zeng 30/08/2020 @ 2:39 am

      Agreed. So much unfairness towards Uncle Sam! Some experts claim that U.S. forced Germany and Japan into war, because of trade embargo. And that Spanish flu came from U.S.
      Personally military ventures have created so much high technology, not easily possible other ways. Science, technology, governance, communications. This internet and computer worldwide U.S. created.
      U.S. currently has until November 2020, a leader whose biggest credentials include multiple corporate bankruptcies. This new “Science” is defining our human values. We eagerly await these national results. Will this close this Anthropocene? The final gift that we baby boomers leave with you youngsters.

  4. Avatar Hewlett D. Brewster 28/08/2020 @ 7:39 pm

    Not even that, like just because we have materials, to make electronics, do not mean we own all the material in other countries, to tell them what to do with it and who to sell it to, would you like someone telling you that you can’t sell your car to someone for $80,000, with no reimbursement of any kind losing thousands of dollars, and job losses

  5. Avatar Hewlett D. Brewster 28/08/2020 @ 8:00 pm

    Plus what happens to a business that’s unable to sell stuff, they go out of business, or bankruptcy where they have to sell leftover item stocks, patents, ect, what happened to free world trade,

  6. Avatar Skedge 29/08/2020 @ 1:59 am

    “However there is presumably involved somewhere in the process”

    US equip you mean of course.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 29/08/2020 @ 11:12 am

      Yes, thanks, corrected.

    • Avatar George Muvirimi 29/08/2020 @ 1:57 pm

      In future those countries who can, must think twice before buying US equipment, if there is alternative they will chose the other,
      And again, are these US tech. given for free? because if i bought them, then you come later on saying you can’t sell to so & so, then it becomes a problem, otherwise you have to cover for the lost business.
      So who is paying google for the lost business? just because you are American, the politicians can do what ever they like with your business?
      By letting this to continue, American businesses are shooting themselves in the foot. its just a matter of time when they realise its a mistake but to reverse it won’t be possible.

      • Avatar Rick James 29/08/2020 @ 5:04 pm

        You must be part of the 50 cent army…

  7. Avatar Man Lee 29/08/2020 @ 2:45 am

    Just the last few gasps of air from the Empire of sanctions.

  8. Avatar Bagimadaar 29/08/2020 @ 3:02 am

    China will not just watch Uncle Sam play these games and get away with it. This will put pressure on China and China will struggle at first but the end it manage to develop their own chips probably better than Uncle Sam’s. Uncle Sam is now short sighted, it’s now too late. Uncle Sam is going to struggle big time with 5g, it won’t be good as Huawei’s for a long time.

    • Avatar GC 29/08/2020 @ 1:25 pm

      China may be fine for now, as a communist country, but one day when they decide to make the shift to capitalism, everything will change.

    • Avatar S. W. Fomum 29/08/2020 @ 2:16 pm

      You’ve nailed it completely. As at now, the Chinese will rightly struggle, but will eventually develop and produce any product/assessory/component that is US patented. This move reduces the market size of US companies and counteracts globalization. The ramifications of Uncle Sam’s fight are far too grave than any imaginable immediate gain.
      It beats my imagination what calibre of a business man he is.

    • Avatar Biggie tells 29/08/2020 @ 2:35 pm

      China has long ways to go currently China can produce 14 and 12nm chips domestically Qualcomm Intel are at 5nm chips for next gen smartphones yes china will catch up it will take yrs though and if America doesnt straighten up they will lose the reserve currency status that makes the sanction power

    • Avatar Greg Zeng 30/08/2020 @ 2:45 am

      5g is an expensive short term solution. U.S. wants 6G. This might mean thousands of low satellites around our planet.

  9. Avatar Vance Cerasini 29/08/2020 @ 3:47 am

    Isn’t Mediatec known primarily for low-end products?

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 29/08/2020 @ 11:28 am

      I don’t think it could provide powerful enough chips for Huawei’s flagship phones.

    • Avatar Greg Zeng 30/08/2020 @ 2:53 am

      Remember Japan? They had Jap Crap, which then competed successfully with Germany and the U.S. Mediatek is Taiwanese. Similar low cost beginnings. Slowly China and other nations are trying to repeat these stories.
      Unknown to simple people, these early industrial stages include environmental poisoning, poor staff management, poor governance. The older educated people love keeping these business facts secret. It is how we older people keep our power and respect.

  10. Avatar MikeG 29/08/2020 @ 4:16 am

    That does not matter and it should not matter, since a Japanese company (SoftBank) owns ARM. All those employees just work for it.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 29/08/2020 @ 11:27 am

      Also a great point.

  11. Avatar George Muvirimi 29/08/2020 @ 7:09 am

    If what US is doing to Huawei succeeds, then no one or any company will be safe in the world. Its us the people or consumers of these goods who suffers, and its a step backward on technology. They should have find a better resolution, crippling the company wasn’t the best.
    Hope other countries are learning from this, today its Huawei, but tomorrow who knows, you might be a darling to day but tomorrow you may be considered an enemy! I Think each country must make their own assessments

    • Avatar Ray 29/08/2020 @ 11:43 am

      Who do USA think they are they do not own the world and have done more damage to countries than the Terri’s they cannot even get their own country right Ray

    • Avatar Lucent99 29/08/2020 @ 1:58 pm

      When you want to go against a authoritarian regime like the Chinese communist party, you don’t and shouldn’t play fair Because they will not play fair. To talk about what’s is fair in this sense is silly. Huawei is NOT a privately owned company, it’s a pawn among A variety of weaponry of the Chinese communist party to control and influence the free world. As an ethnic Chinese, I will support ANY effort to suffocate the company and shut it down internationally.

  12. Avatar Rudolph Wratten 29/08/2020 @ 7:31 am

    ARM, and the British, are very involved with Open Source.
    The Chinese are very much involved with Open Source.
    The Raspberry Pi has a companion, an Analog subsystem.
    China has License for earlier X86 designs.
    But they are pushing forward to a domestic production computing solution.

  13. Avatar Mila omg 29/08/2020 @ 7:42 am

    Stupid sanction. USA should be sanctioned for intentionally torpedoeing the global economy. Just because it’s an election? Everybody has to cater to their whims. We have to suffer for them? It can’t even come up with 2 credible candidates for this hullabaloo.

    • Avatar GC 29/08/2020 @ 1:36 pm

      We forget that China is a communist country, run by the government not the people. The USA may not be perfect, especially now that all there dirty laundry is being broadcast all over the world. These are the growing pains of a democratic country, that houses a multitude of different ethnicities.

  14. Avatar Anwar 29/08/2020 @ 9:40 am

    This all goes beyond spying. We all know the USA spies on every country in the world. This is because Huawei are becoming too big and are ahead of the US with 5G. Best way to get ahead is to cripple the opposition

  15. Avatar Phak Yam 29/08/2020 @ 12:03 pm

    For all her sins and unrighteous acts America has to pay a quid pro quo.. She is engulfed in flames of hell already.. yet their leaders are still bent towards self enrichment.. book deals not to address wrong but to line their pockets . For we are the country with the world’s greatest economy.. greatest military we are the American exception…

  16. Avatar victorgoh 29/08/2020 @ 2:02 pm

    One day, uncle SAM will not allows all chinese to take their breathe because uncle SAM will claim their have invented the oxygen…..

  17. Avatar mydraconian 29/08/2020 @ 2:14 pm

    it is a real embarrassment to think that a whole country or nation has to go against ONE company.
    not just any country – uncle sam!!!
    and to think that just a few years back huawei was just another company trying to sell phones (yes, their main business before that was telecommunication equipments, but most dont even remember their name for that)

    as much as i am not a fan of huawei, i respect them for being so great that uncle sam itself has to bully them directly… hahaha

  18. Avatar Thomas Foo 29/08/2020 @ 3:02 pm

    One fine day, China will be a supplier instead of being a buyer of chips. The prices will be far cheaper than the Americans.
    Trump will be remembered as the worst president in US history.

    • Avatar Aegis Ong 29/08/2020 @ 5:17 pm

      Yes Thomas. If US continues this trend of sanctions and stupid moves. Chinese Reminbi (Yuan) will probably be the global currency. If I am not wrong, Indonesia already accepting RMB as a trade currency.

  19. Avatar eastcastle 29/08/2020 @ 5:31 pm

    Notoriously the 1st victim of such dirty chick by u.s. is Alston of French, and now Huawei. Five years later no foreign Cos will do business with u.s. ones: trump won!

  20. Avatar alds 29/08/2020 @ 7:33 pm

    im sorry but i dont get the figure.were talking about semicon chips right?what is the relevance of casino chips here?

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 30/08/2020 @ 11:38 am

      It’s a visual pun that also shows someone going all in.

  21. Avatar Casper Glen 29/08/2020 @ 7:54 pm

    This is the only time I can read something more objectively and fair-minded for the US competitiveness in the long term. The current administration lives in the mindset more than a few generations ago, totally forgetting the connectedness of the current world, particularly in the technological advance that may benefit more than less – say, the linked data world. There is always a concern of national security while there are options than using such obsolete mindset in politics. The exchange here is respectful.

  22. Avatar Wong 30/08/2020 @ 2:46 am

    Two decades ago, the US forbid China from participating in the space station program. Today, China is preparing to launch its space station by itself without the participation of any other country. I suppose that if Huawei cannot buy any chips outside China, Chinese companies will make the chips and sell them to Huawei. This should not take more than one year. And if UK doesn’t want to buy Huawei 5G base stations, Huawei can increase its supply to Chinese companies and speed up the deployment of 5G in China.

  23. Avatar Kenn 30/08/2020 @ 11:35 am

    All those talk about free trade, democracy, freedom of this and that…. not to mention about human ( company’s) rights….. What happened? ????

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