Huawei Technologies’ latest 5G smartphone has thrown an intense spotlight on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) after a third-party teardown of the handset indicated that mainland China’s top contract chip maker was behind its advanced processor, which could prompt US government action for violating existing trade sanctions, reports the South China Morning Post. SMIC’s share price has gained nearly 20% in Hong Kong and 15% in Shanghai since Huawei launched presales of its new Mate 60 Pro last week, as investors bet that the country’s largest semiconductor foundry produced the Kirin 9000s chipset that powers the smartphone.
US semiconductor research firm TechInsights said in a report that SMIC made the Kirin 9000s via its 7-nanometer process, known as the N+2 node, fuelling speculation that the chip maker was helping Huawei clandestinely overcome stifling US tech sanctions.
SMIC, which was added to the US Entity List in December 2020, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Huawei, which was put on that trade blacklist in May 2019, declined to comment.