ARM has just announced that its latest A9 architecture could potentially be licensed to Huawei Technologies. This could ease the latter’s supply chain issues and is possible since the new chip technology is of British origin. Credit: ARM Holdings.

Besieged telecom giant Huawei received some good news this week — a development which could ease the pressure on its chip division, HiSilicon.

UK-based chip designer ARM Holdings said that its latest chip architecture, Armv9, is not subject to the US’s Export Administration Regulations, which means it is able to be licensed to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. 

According to The Global Times and Yicai.com, ARM said it has IPs that originate from the US as well as outside the US, and after thorough investigations, it confirmed that the Armv9 architecture is not under the rule of EAR, the US restrictions on supplying Huawei.

Ian Smythe, vice-president of solutions marketing at the ARM stated during a media event in Beijing earlier this week that “Following a comprehensive review, ARM has determined that its Armv9 architecture is not subject to the US Export Administration Regulations.”

He further added that the company has also shared its review to the appropriate US government agencies as well.

It is good news for Huawei and its chip arm, HiSilicon, which is blacklisted by the US government, but the significance might be limited as the Chinese company still faces pressures finding chip manufacturers, Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told Global Times.

“It is a small success for Huawei. The ARM architecture is a basic framework for chip design,” Xiang said, “The Kirin 990 chip, for example, is built based on the ARM’s design architecture.”

Arm disclosed some details about the latest Armv9 architecture, and the company expects it will be used in over 300 billion chips in the coming years. 

According to the company, the new Armv9 focuses on three areas: performance, security, and machine learning (ML) capabilities.

ARM says the design will provide more than a 30% CPU performance boost over the next two generations of mobile and infrastructure CPUs.

It is not the first time that ARM has decided to continue supplying chip technology to Huawei. In 2019, Huawei secured a lifelong license of the Armv8-A architecture from the chip designer.

Security is a major pillar of ARM’s new design.

Its Confidential Compute Architecture (CCA) “shields portions of code and data from access or modification while in-use, even from privileged software, by performing computation in a hardware-based secure environment.”

The CCA will use a concept called Realms, a “region that is separate from both the secure and non-secure worlds.”

For example, ARM says a business application could use Realms to protect sensitive data from the rest of the system “while it is in-use, at rest, and in transit.”

For those unaware, ARM sells processor designs and licenses its instruction set to various companies including, AppleSamsung Electronics, and even Qualcomm.

Apple’s M1 chip, powering the latest Macs, uses an ARM design.

The company’s technology is also gaining a foothold in other markets, such as personal computers and servers.

Meanwhile, according to new reports the Huawei P50 series of flagship smartphones may face further delays.

There’s a possibility that the announcement could take place in April and the devices be made available for purchase a month later.

However, the new report claims that the Huawei P50 series may get further delayed and could be made official in June later this year.

This is mainly because of the supply chain and production issues that the company faces which is a result of the sanctions imposed on the Chinese giant by the US.

Sources: Global Times, Yicai.com, GizmoChina, AppleInsider