In the first quarter of 2020, Huawei’s HiSilicon semiconductor revenue jumped 54% to enter the global top 10 semiconductor companies. This is a new record for Chinese semiconductor companies. Most of Huawei HiSilicon processors are produced by Taiwanese foundry, TSMC. As of now, Huawei is TSMC’s second-largest customer, second only to Apple.
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However, Huawei has begun to decentralize orders from TSMC for well-known reasons. Recall that the Huawei Kirin 710A used SMIC’s 14nm manufacturing process. The Kirin 710 used TSMC’s 12nm foundry, but the Kirin 710A moved to SMIC’s 14nm process. Presently, the Honor Play 4T comes with this SMIC chip.
SMIC’s 14nm process is the same generation as TSMC’s 16nm process. However, its 12nm process is an improvement on TSMC’s 16nm process. Considering TSMC’s experience and capability in process technology, SMIC’s 14nm Kirin 710A is not as good as TSMC’s. The CPU frequency drops from 2.2GHz to 2.0GHz.
Ordinarily, there should be some concerns on TSMC’s part. When reporters asked the company what it thinks about Huawei’s shift to TSMC, it did not give any response. Rather the company said, “TSMC does not comment on specific customers”.
According to TSMC’s co-CEO, Wei Zhejia, the company is focused on providing the best technology and services. It believes that its current position is quite competitive and it will not lose market share. If anything, it will further expand its market share.