Credits: Huawei

Huawei is reportedly facing productivity issues for its Ascend 910B AI processors. The components are manufactured by Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) in China, and rumors suggest that the yield has not been the best.

The unofficial information comes from Korean website, reported by the ever-reliable Tom’s Hardware. Difficulties in translation, however, make it unclear just how much trouble Huawei may be facing.

The original report says that 4 out of 5 chips manufactured come out with defects. It is normal, however, for processors to be manufactured with a number of defects within a tolerable rate. The company simply disables the bad cores and still gets fully usable products.

Image shows one of SMIC's headquarters.
Source: EETAsia

What is not known, then, is whether these mentioned defects are of the workable type or whether Huawei would simply be losing 80% of its Ascend 910B chip production. Such a rate would make its business unsustainable.

The Ascend 910B is Huawei’s second generation of AI processors. The company has been turning its attention to the home market after U.S. sanctions made it difficult to source such components from international suppliers. Nvidia’s A100 chip once dominated 90% of the Chinese market.

US sanctions hamper manufacturing for Huawei

It is precisely because of the US trade sanctions against China, mentioned above, that SMIC has faced problems producing the Ascend 910B more efficiently.

The Chosun report mentions that the factory cannot obtain parts to maintain its lithography tools, nor more advanced machinery with EUV capabilities, due to restrictions imposed by Uncle Sam’s land. Even specialized engineers SMIC would have difficulty hiring.

If the rumors are true, Huawei will likely have difficulty moving forward with its plans to soon begin manufacturing even more advanced AI processors. The company reportedly plans to begin production of the Ascend 910C in September this year, using the 5nm process. As this is a more advanced technology, defects are expected to become even more frequent.

Not only that, but the difficulties faced in manufacturing chips for Huawei could end up being reflected in other segments of the Chinese semiconductor market. The country will see its plans to become self-sufficient, if the reports are correct.

Source: Tom’s Hardware

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