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ARM will continue to license chip architecture to Huawei after all

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ARM has decided that its technology is of UK origin, not US

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ARM will continue to license its chip architectures to Huawei. The company’s legal team has reached the decision that ARM’s v8 and v9 architectures are “UK-origin technologies” and therefore not subject to the United States’ trade ban, which limits US companies from working with Huawei, per a report from Reuters. The ban was put in place over national security concerns regarding the Chinese telecommunications company.

“ARM can provide support to HiSilicon for the ARM v8-A architecture, as well as the next generation of that architecture, following a comprehensive review of both architectures, which have been determined to be of UK origin,” commented an ARM spokeswoman to Reuters.

The decision is good news for Huawei since it allows the company to continue to create its own chips for its devices through HiSilicon, its semiconductor company. While products like Huawei’s Kirin 990 processor are designed in-house, they rely heavily on ARM’s designs for both the CPU and GPU. Without ARM’s licensing, Huawei would effectively be unable to produce new processors, making the decision a substantial one regarding Huawei’s ability to produce new phones.

ARM cut ties with Huawei in May due to the Trump’s trade ban out of concerns that its chip designs might contain “US origin technology.” ARM is based in the UK and owned by the SoftBank Group in Japan, but the company has offices in the United States in California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, and Massachusetts where employees — at least in theory — help develops processor designs. Now, with ARM concluding that its chips are of “UK origin,” it’s saying that it isn’t included in the US ban.

It’s not the end of Huawei’s problems, however. New phones sold by the company still can’t offer Google’s apps and services (including the Play Store), which are critical for actually selling Android devices outside of China. But with ARM continuing to work with Huawei, it’ll at least be able to continue to make the phones.