Huawei puts a price on Trump’s aggression

Huawei is researching ways to replace chip-design software tools offered by Cadence Design Systems Inc and Synopsys Inc. (Reuters pic)

BEIJING: Huawei Technologies Co expects less damage from Trump-administration curbs than initially anticipated but remains on the lookout for ways to replace key American suppliers.

China’s largest technology company is now projecting that US export restrictions will reduce annual revenue at its consumer devices business by about US$10 billion, deputy chairman Eric Xu said Friday. But the overall damage to the company will be a “little less” than billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei’s initial estimate of US$30 billion of sales over two years, Xu told reporters in Shenzhen.

Huawei is still keen on developing alternatives in response to sanctions on the American technology it needs to make its gear, Xu said.

On Friday, it introduced its most powerful artificial intelligence chipset, the Ascend 910, which is poised to rival some of the best offerings from Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp. Earlier this month, it offered the first glimpse of an in-house software –HarmonyOS – that may someday replace Google’s Android.

The company is also researching ways to replace chip-design software tools offered by Cadence Design Systems Inc and Synopsys Inc, Xu said without elaborating.

Since May, Huawei has occupied the uncomfortable position of being both an established global brand and a member of the US Entity List, which bars it from trading freely with American suppliers.

Despite a series of 90-day reprieves, the latest of which came this week, the uncertainty caused by American sanctions has already cost the company a great deal. Even if Huawei is eventually brought in from the cold, the impact of this summer’s upheaval will be widespread and painful.

“There were no chip design tools 10 years ago, but the industry still developed chips,” said Xu, who argued that Cadence and Synopsys were not must-haves for design.

“Intel started to develop chips in the 1970s, when those companies didn’t exist.”