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.