Samsung saving Huawei isn’t something you see every day but it just might end up happening regardless. Huawei is apparently on the verge of securing perhaps its first major ally in the era post U.S. technology ban. Curiously enough, that potential partner also happens to be its biggest smartphone rival. From another perspective, Samsung is on the verge of neutralizing the arguably biggest threat to its global smartphone dominance to date. Because the very existence of their fierce rivalry is what makes them such a potentially powerful pairing. And the Chinese company could certainly use a break right about now, no matter how small.
A recent report suggested the duo is close to reaching a large-scale supply agreement which would essentially have Samsung save Huawei’s 5G ambitions; one that would eliminate a key barrier to its ability to continue mass-producing 5G equipment. That would be chips of the wireless variety, of course. The very latest of which are based on a 7nm process node, cutting-edge tech few foundries can deliver.
For added context, Samsung’s proprietary solution can accomodate about 10 billion transistors on a silicon wafer the size of a penny. Now for the pivotal part: that’s likely doable without utilizing any tech owned by an American company. Which is essentially what the Trump administration’s recently extended Huawei sanctions are all about. There’s no telling how exactly would Washington respond to Samsung saving Huawei from this predicament. But it likely wouldn’t be able to do anything directly.
Samsung saving Huawei can only be bad news for consumers
Samsung is now said to be in the process of testing out that theory. Sources close to the firm report it already set up a benchmark 5G chip production line sans U.S. tech. The shop floor in question instead utilizes equipment from only Europe and Japan, as per the same insiders. The setup’s believed to include silicon testing machines from Yokohama-based Lasertec, while the actual production will be handled by a line based on Dutch IP. There’s but one option for 7nm EUV etching, anyway; that would be the semiconductor specialists from ASML based in Veldhoven, Netherlands.
In exchange for that key support act, Samsung would secure a truce with its most threatening competitor in the smartphone space. Besides a ton of money, of course, since it’s not like Huawei has many other options at this point. Assuming conceding the 5G race before it even truly began is still out of the question. At the same time, this would spell exclusively bad news for consumers. How would it not? It’s difficult to imagine an industry that wouldn’t capitalize on two of its biggest players getting friendlier.
Then again, it remains to be seen whether this quid pro quo actually ends up happening. It’s not like having Korean partners is what landed Huawei in hot water with the U.S. in the first place. No, no, the other Koreans. Of course, there’s the whole other matter of doing business with another internationally sanctioned nation in Iran, among a couple… dozen other incidents which led Huawei to the thankless position in which it now finds itself.