The problem Huawei faces right now is the inability to get tech and components made by US companies or companies that use US technology. This is due to Huawei still being on the US Entity List which forbids them from doing business with US companies and vice versa, but it looks like they might have an answer to their problem coming from an unexpected player – Canon.
Canon might be a company many of us are familiar with when it comes to consumer products like digital cameras, printers, and scanners, but recently the company announced the development of a new machine that could allow semiconductor manufacturers to create 5nm chipsets.
Why is this a big deal? This is because right now, Samsung and TSMC are pretty much the only two companies in the world that can create chipsets based on the 7nm fabrication process or better. Recently China’s own SMIC is said to have helped Huawei develop the 7nm chipset used in the Huawei Mate 60 Pro, although some have expressed their doubts at this.
Companies like Samsung and TSMC rely on equipment made by Dutch company ASML, but due to regulations, the company has been barred from selling their EUV lithography machines to China. With Canon’s new machine, it means that SMIC (and other Chinese semiconductor companies) now have an alternative.
Canon’s own machine uses a different technology from ASML. Canon’s machine uses nanoimprint lithography (NIL) technology that basically fabricates a chip by pressing a mask with the circuit pattern onto the wafer. According to Canon, apparently this process can result in a better circuit transfer process compared to other methods, while also being lower in power consumption.
Whether or not Canon (or Japan’s government) will be allowed to sell the tech to China remains to be seen, but for now it represents a potential alternative that could allow Chinese companies like Huawei to catch up to the competition.