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Huawei Unit Ships Chinese-Made Surveillance Chips in Fresh Comeback Sign

Updated: Jan 9

In a significant development, a unit of Huawei Technologies has reportedly started shipping Chinese-made chips for surveillance cameras, indicating that the Chinese tech giant is finding ways to bypass U.S. export controls.

booth of Huawei's chip developer Hisilicon
Credits: REUTERS

According to sources familiar with the matter, the shipments began this year and are being supplied to surveillance camera manufacturers.

While some of the customers are Chinese, Huawei's HiSilicon chip design unit aims to regain its market share in the surveillance camera sector, which had plummeted due to U.S. export controls. The company's ability to work around chip design software restrictions has played a crucial role in its comeback.

Huawei's HiSilicon primarily supplies chips for its own equipment, but it has also served external customers such as Dahua Technology and Hikvision. Before the U.S. export controls were imposed, HiSilicon held a dominant position in the surveillance camera sector, with a global market share of 60% in 2018. However, by 2021, its market share had dropped to a mere 3.9%. The company aims to reclaim its position by focusing on high-end surveillance chips and competing with companies like Novatek Microelectronics Corp.

The ability to manufacture surveillance chips is considered relatively easier compared to smartphone processors. This development is seen as a significant shake-up in the market, as Huawei's return could disrupt the existing dynamics. The company's recent launch of new smartphones using domestically made advanced chips further demonstrates its resilience in overcoming U.S. export controls.

Despite the success in the surveillance chip sector, Huawei's access to electronic design automation (EDA) software from U.S. companies has been severely restricted. The company has managed to make breakthroughs in chip design tools for chips produced at and above 14 nanometres, but it remains unclear whether these tools were obtained illicitly or developed internally. The U.S. sanctions have also prompted calls for additional pressure on Huawei and China's top chip foundry, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC).

In conclusion, Huawei's unit shipping Chinese-made surveillance chips signifies the company's ability to navigate around U.S. export controls. By focusing on the surveillance camera sector and leveraging its chip design capabilities, Huawei aims to regain its market share and challenge its competitors. The development also raises questions about the source of the advanced chips used in Huawei's recent smartphone launches.

  • Huawei unit starts shipping Chinese-made surveillance chips for surveillance cameras

  • Company finds ways to bypass U.S. export controls

  • HiSilicon aims to regain market share in the surveillance camera sector


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