U.S. Commerce Secretary: China's Huawei Years Behind in Semiconductor Tech Despite Chip Advancement

U.S. Commerce Secretary Raimondo claims Huawei's chip tech lags behind the U.S. by years, despite the Chinese firm's recent advancements, highlighting the ongoing tech rivalry between the nations.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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U.S. Commerce Secretary: China's Huawei Years Behind in Semiconductor Tech Despite Chip Advancement

U.S. Commerce Secretary: China's Huawei Years Behind in Semiconductor Tech Despite Chip Advancement

In a '60 Minutes' interview aired on April 22, 2024, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stated that China's Huawei remains years behind the United States in semiconductor technology, despite the company's recent chip advancement. Raimondo emphasized the significant technological advantage the U.S. maintains over Huawei, a major Chinese tech company, in the critical semiconductor industry.

Raimondo downplayed the recent launch of Huawei's Mate 60 Pro smartphone, which is powered by the company's homegrown 7-nanometer Kirin 9000S chip. She argued that the chip "is not nearly as good" as what the U.S. has available, and that "China doesn't" have the most sophisticated semiconductors.

The Commerce Secretary acknowledged that Taiwan, not the U.S., accounts for 90% of advanced chip production through Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). However, she explained that the Kirin 9000S is manufactured by China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), which uses older deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines instead of ASML's newer extreme ultraviolet (EUV) equipment, limiting its capabilities.

Why this matters: The ongoing tensions and competition between the U.S. and China in the realm of advanced technology have significant implications for national security and economic dominance. The U.S. government's efforts to restrict China's access to cutting-edge semiconductor technology highlight the strategic importance of this industry in the global power struggle.

Raimondo's assessment of Huawei's technological capabilities comes amid the Biden administration's tightening of export controls on China to protect U.S. national security interests. The U.S. Commerce Department has played a central role in the administration's China strategy, including efforts to limit China's access to foreign technology and boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing through grants and loans worth over $100 billion.

Former TSMC VP Liang Mong Song noted that while SMIC has managed to bring older devices to 7nm, the yield rate and performance of the Huawei chip are significantly compromised. Raimondo concluded that the U.S. has "out-innovated China" and is still keeping Chinese semiconductor technology about five years behind the Western equivalent, despite Huawei's claims of an advancement.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Raimondo says Huawei's chip tech lags 5 years behind the U.S.
  • Huawei's Kirin 9000S chip, made by SMIC, is inferior to U.S. semiconductor technology.
  • Taiwan's TSMC accounts for 90% of advanced chip production, not the U.S.
  • U.S. restricts China's access to cutting-edge semiconductor tech for national security.
  • U.S. aims to boost domestic chip manufacturing with over $100 billion in grants and loans.