Huawei was expected to unveil the flagship 5nm Kirin chipset during its IFA 2020 keynote earlier this month in Berlin. However, the company has indefinitely postponed the unveiling to avoid unnecessary attention. According to the latest report from China, Huawei was able to procure only 8.8 million Kirin 9000 chipsets.
This is almost 40 percent less than the 15 million order the company is expected to have placed with Taiwanese contract chipmaker TSMC. With such a low amount of stock, the company might not be able to match up with the demand. For comparison, Huawei has sold 12 million Mate 30 smartphones in the first three months of launch.
Huawei only procured 60 percent of the expected Kirin 9000 chipsets
Huawei's upcoming Mate 40 smartphones will come powered by the company's all-new 5nm Kirin chipset. The company is expected to launch these new flagship smartphones by the end of September or early October. However, a recent report suggests the company has reportedly postponed the launch to early 2021.
Moreover, the Kirin 9000 could have been the world's first mobile chipset to be built on the 5nm process. With the newly launched 4th-gen iPad Air, Apple introduced the A14 Bionic as the world's first 5nm chipset.
Will it be the world's first 5nm chipset with an integrated 5G modem?
If launched before the upcoming Snapdragon 875 SoC, the Kirin 9000 could become the world's first 5nm chipset with an integrated 5G modem. According to the source, there are a total of 22,000 5nm wafers. With an output of around 400 good dies per wafer, total production might not exceed the reported 8.8 million mark.
Huawei can't even replace its own Kirin chipset with alternatives from companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek. The suppliers also need to get permission from the US government to supply their chipsets to the banned Chinese company.
As per recent reports, Qualcomm, Samsung, and SMIC have requested approval from the US to supply to Huawei. Since domestic semiconductor companies in China lack the advanced technologies to produce 5nm chips, Huawei's HiSilicon unit has to completely depend on foreign companies for their flagship chipsets.
The orders from the US Commerce Department, released in May this year, banned all the chipmakers using American technology from working with Huawei. While TSMC immediately stopped accepting new orders from Huawei, it did receive permission to fulfill the previous orders by September 14.
Currently, Huawei cannot do anything but wait for its suppliers to get permission from the US government. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out for its flagship lineup.