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Huawei makes breakthrough in design tools used to create 14nm chips: report

Huawei Technologies has achieved a breakthrough in electronic design automation (EDA) tools for chips manufactured at 14 nanometers and above, financial news magazine Caijing reported Friday, citing a speech by a senior Huawei executive.

Huawei will complete tool testing this year, Chairman Xu Zhijun said in a speech on Feb. 28, Caijing reported. The report says that Huawei has developed 78 tools related to the hardware and software of the chips.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Chips produced at the 14nm level were first introduced in smartphones in the mid-2010s and are two to three generations behind the cutting-edge technology.

Huawei, a major supplier of equipment used in 5G telecommunications networks, has been repeatedly subjected to US export controls since 2019, restricting the supply of chips and design tools to US companies.

Chip design companies use EDA software to create blueprints for chips before they are mass-produced in factories.

The EDA software market is dominated by three foreign firms – Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys, headquartered in the US, and Mentor Graphics, owned by Germany’s Siemens AG.

There are several domestic EDA software producers operating in China, but they are not considered globally competitive by experts.

All three foreign EDA companies were sanctioned by Washington against Huawei in 2020.

When the restrictions went into effect, the company’s chip design department lost access to software and updates that would have allowed them to develop low-node processors for their smartphones, as well as access to advanced manufacturing tools in chip factories.

As a result, sales of the company’s smartphone division plummeted.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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