It might have been too easy to belittle the US ban on supplying Huawei with semiconductors but the full brunt of that rule is now coming to light in full. While the primary and immediate casualties are, of course, the mobile processors that will power Huawei’s chips, the rule’s chilling effects actually covers anything and everything that is powered or controlled by a chip, including the screens that Samsung and LG will no longer supply Huawei exactly for that reason.
The new US Commerce Department rule that takes effect next week basically blocks companies from supplying Huawei and its affiliates with semiconductors that were produced using US technologies or software. That immediately put Huawei’s HiSilicon subsidiary in peril but it also made foundries like TSMC cut off orders from Huawei because their use of American products might fall under than ban.
Mobile processors, however, aren’t the only chips used inside a phone. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, both of home make DRAMs for mobile devices, are also ceasing their supply of memory chips to Huawei. Now media reports say that Samsung Display and LG Display are also backing out of business deals with Huawei because these displays do have chips necessary for controlling them.
This development practically forces Huawei to look for new suppliers and fast. While there are definitely other component suppliers out there, they may not have the same level of quality that Huawei’s phones have been known for. There is also the chance that these companies also use technologies produced by US companies, putting them on the same boat as Samsung and LG anyway.
The US is also mulling over adding China’s largest semiconductor foundry SMIC to its entity list, which would then be banned from doing business with US companies without a special license. This will, of course, affect Huawei and SMIC directly but its impact on other companies, especially Chinese ones, could be even bigger in the final analysis.