Huawei forges ahead with smartphone launch plan with new chipset

Consumers will need new handsets to take advantage of the ultrafast download speeds promised by ultra-fast 5G networks. (Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2019

Huawei forges ahead with smartphone launch plan with new chipset

  • The Chinese tech giant bills the Kirin 990 chipset as the first all-in-one 5G system on a chip
  • Consumers will need new handsets to take advantage of the ultrafast download speeds promised by 5G

BERLIN: Huawei Technologies showcased its chipset for a new high-end smartphone on Friday, pressing ahead with plans to launch its Mate 30 range, despite uncertainty about whether the new phones will be able to run Google’s Android operating system and apps.
The Chinese tech giant bills the Kirin 990 chipset as the first all-in-one 5G system on a chip, describing it as superior to alternatives from Qualcomm and Samsung that, it says, graft 5G modems on to 4G chips.
The launch at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin of the Kirin 990, made using the latest 7 nanometer production process, is part of a carefully sequenced buildup to the Sept. 19 international launch of the Mate 30 in Munich.
Yet, say Huawei sources, it is still not known whether the Mate 30 will be able to run services from Alphabet’s Google following the blacklisting of the Chinese company by the US administration in May.
That ban sliced 5 percentage points off Huawei’s market share in Europe.
The world’s No.2 smartphone maker is looking to reclaim ground as the spread of ultra-fast 5G networks prompts an upgrade cycle among consumers who have been holding on to phones for longer. Consumers will need new handsets to take advantage of the ultrafast download speeds promised by 5G.
The services in doubt include pre-installing the Google Play store and a suite of popular apps such as Google Maps that buyers would expect to be available from the moment they turn on their new phone and synch it with their profile.
Huawei’s fallback option would be to run the devices on its home-grown Harmony operating system, although company officials and analysts say it is not yet ready for prime time.
“The elephant in the room is Google,” said Peter Richardson of Counterpoint Research, after attending a technical briefing on the Kirin 990 by Huawei managers that skirted the issue and focused only on the chipset’s specifications.
The Kirin 990 packs more than 10 billion transistors and can support downlink speeds of up to 2.3 gigabits per second.
It has an adaptive receiver that enables it to switch between 4G and 5G where coverage of the faster technology is weak.
And, to save energy, it has a ‘big core’ to handle powerful computing tasks with the support of artificial intelligence, and a ‘tiny core’ for less demanding operation.
Huawei plans only to use the Kirin 990 in its own devices, meaning it lacks the marketing opportunities enjoyed by Qualcomm, whose chips already power the Samsung 5G phones, such as the Galaxy 10, already on the market.
Apple’s recent settlement of a patent dispute with Qualcomm, and Intel’s exit from the smartphone modem business also reflect the US chipmaker’s muscle in a global market that is increasingly fragmenting due to the US-China trade tension.
“Qualcomm has a scale advantage,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. “Huawei’s commitment to continue innovating on silicon is really impressive, especially given the geopolitical headwinds they are facing.
“But at the end of the day, it’s a single-vendor solution. And, even if they had aspirations to sell the chipset, that is getting more difficult all the time.”


Beijing tariff demands may expand US-China ‘phase one’ trade deal significantly

Updated 20 November 2019

Beijing tariff demands may expand US-China ‘phase one’ trade deal significantly

  • Beijing wants Trump to eliminate the 15 percent tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods imposed on Sept. 1

WASHINGTON: A “phase one” trade deal between the United States and China was supposed to be a limited agreement that would allow leaders from both countries to claim an easy victory while soothing financial markets.
But it may morph into something bigger if US President Donald Trump agrees to Beijing’s demands to roll back existing tariffs on Chinese goods, people familiar with the talks say.
China’s commerce ministry said this month that removing tariffs imposed during the trade war is an important condition to any deal. The demand has US officials wondering if higher Chinese purchases of US farm goods, promises of improved access to China’s financial services industry, and pledges to protect intellectual property are enough to ask in return.
Two people briefed on the talks said Trump has decided that rolling back existing tariffs, in addition to canceling a scheduled Dec. 15 imposition of tariffs on some $156 billion in Chinese consumer goods, requires deeper concessions from China.
“The president wants the option of having a bigger deal with China. Bigger than just the little deal” announced in October, said Derek Scissors, a China scholar with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Scissors, who consults with administration officials, said whether Trump will agree to remove existing tariffs depends largely on whether he believes it will benefit his re-election chances. Some White House advisers would like to see China agree to large, specific agricultural purchases, while the US maintains existing tariffs for future leverage.
That would help Trump’s farm belt constituency while allowing the president to campaign on maintaining his “tough on China” stance, which holds appeal to voters in key states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
But Beijing is balking at committing to a specific amount of farm product purchases, within a particular time frame, and wants to let supply and demand dictate deals instead.
Beijing also wants Trump to eliminate the 15 percent tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods imposed on Sept. 1, as well as provide some relief from the 25 percent tariffs imposed on an earlier, $250 billion list of industrial and consumer goods.
One Washington-based trade expert said that to achieve the $40-50 billion in annual Chinese purchases of American farm goods touted by Trump in October, he would likely have to eliminate all of the tariffs the US put in place since the trade war started in 2018.
Trump and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recognize that making such concessions for a “skinny” trade deal that fails to address core intellectual property and technology transfer issues is not a very good deal for Trump, a second person briefed on last weekend’s trade phone call said.
Trump is the final decision-maker in the US on any deal, and hasn’t committed to any specifics so far, White House advisers say.
The president said Tuesday that China “is going to have to make a deal that I like. If they don’t, that’s it.”
A ‘phase one’ trade deal, once expected to be completed within weeks of an October news conference between Trump and Chinese vice premier Liu He, could now be pushed into next year, trade experts say.