HarmonyOS, Huawei’s distributed operating system, will be launched in Europe next year, according to Derek Yu, the president of Huawei’s Consumer Business in Central & Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and Canada.
The latest estimation indicates that 150 million devices are already carrying HarmonyOS. By the end of 2021, the number will jump to 200 million. Huawei aims to boost the number of HarmonyOS-carrying devices to above 300 million: while 200 million of them will be Huawei products, the remaining 100 million devices will come from partners in Huawei’s ecosystem. Within China alone, already 135 types of devices are running HarmonyOS.
At the Huawei Developer Conference 2021 held in October, a developer preview version of HarmonyOS 3.0 was just unveiled. According to Tim Gong, the president of software at the Huawei Consumer Business Group, the first quarter of 2022 will see the official launch of HarmonyOS 3.0 beta.
5G RF filters still China’s missing puzzles
Confirming earlier speculation that Huawei would soon re-introduce its 5G chips, Derek Yu revealed that Huawei’s Shanghai R&D center had been indeed working on the design of a 5G chip, and hinted the possibility of ending foreign dependency on 5G chips.
Owing to U.S. export restrictions, Yu reiterated that Huawei could only obtain 4G chips now, and cooperations with companies like Qualcomm would continue to ensure a stable supply.
Huawei’s in-house 5G processors, Kirin 9000, are soon out of stock, and Qualcomm’s 5G-disabled version of Snapdragon 888 chipsets have come to replace Kirin 9000 in some phone models, such as the P50 series launched in early August. Ironically, even the said Kirin 9000 chips lack 5G connectivity.
As the world’s first 5nm-manufactured 5G chipset, Kirin 9000 relied on TSMC’s process technology. However, due to U.S. sanctions, TSMC has already stopped making the chips for Huawei since September 2020. It was speculated hat Huawei had ordered 15 million Kirin 9000 chips from TSMC before the restriction took effect, but received approximately 8.8 million chips in the end. The act also indirectly triggered the global chip crisis.
Even with the stockpile, key RF frontend components are still dominated by U.S. and Japanese suppliers, rendering Kirin 9000 unable to support 5G. Broadcom, for example, dominate the Bulk Acoustic Wave (BAW) filters market, followed by Qorvo. Similarly, the Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) filter market is dominated by Japan’s Murata Manufacturing Co. and TDK Corp.
Despite Huawei’s optimistic announcement, it is unclear how the RF component issues are to be addressed. Details are also lacking regarding which process node the prospective 5G chips will use.