Ever since the United States added Huawei to its Entity List in 2019, its chip designing subsidiary HiSilicon became Huawei’s main source of chips. Back then, HiSilicon was the second largest customer of TSMC.
When more sanctions followed, not only was HiSilicone deprived of TSMC’s advanced manufacturing processes, its alternative supplier, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), was also barred from obtaining ASML’s EUV (Extreme ultraviolet) lithography equipment. SMIC is China’s homegrown champion to rival TSMC, but has been facing difficulties with progressing to 7nm and beyond without the EUV machines. According to SMIC, it can only manufacture at 40nm node without US suppliers.
Ever since, Huawei and the Chinese semiconductor industry have been striving to expand upstream, realizing that the IC manufacturing equipment are the chokepoint of the industry. Recently, industry watchers believe that Huawei has taken the first move to develop its own photolithography equipment. .
Hubble Technology Investment, Huawei’s investment vehicle founded in 2019, has lately taken a 4.76% share in Beijing RSLaser Opto-Electronics Technology , becoming its 7th largest shareholder. On the first look, it appears to be an ordinary laser technology company. However, it could fill a gap essential to China’s development of its own lithography equipment.