Contradictory to a recent EE Times blog, Chinese telecom equipment vendor has been using ASICs for years.
Huawei has the goal of becoming a $100 billion company, and to complement its communications infrastructure business, the company is placing strong emphasis on smart phones and tablet computers.
In 2011, Huawei sold 55 million mobile phones, of which 20 million were smartphones. In 2012, the company hopes to ship 60 million smartphones, but it is likely that the actual number shipped will be 45 million.
In 2013, Huawei is planning to ship 100 million smartphones, but this is, too, is likely too ambitious. It is, however, likely that Huawei will be in third position globally in smartphones behind Samsung and Apple.
The company has also released its MediaPad tablet computer, which uses the K3V2 chip designed by HiSilicon. The K3V2 chip has a quad-core Cortex-A9, with wafer supply from TSMC, and with a feature sizes as small as 40-nm. New generations of products, which include LTE modems and application processors, are being designed in 28-nm, and also with TSMC as a foundry vendor.
Huawei also buys modems from Qualcomm and has given Qualcomm a multibillion dollar contract for modems. Power amplifiers are bought from Avago and others. Broadcom is a large supplier of combo chips, which include Wi-Fi, BT, and other RF blocks.
Huawei is also a large consumer of standard cell ASICs, FPGAs, communications processors, and specialty products for communications applications.
With semiconductors accounting for 15 percent of its communications equipment, Huawei consumed $4.7 billion worth of semiconductors in 2011.
With HiSilicon supplying $800 million worth of chips, Huawei purchased $3.9 billion worth of chips from the merchant market.
IBM Microelectronics has been a key standard cell ASIC vendor to Huawei for many years, and a key area of strength of IBM is its embedded DRAM structures.
IBM Microelectronics has also provided support to HiSilicon in designing complex ASICs that are targeted at the communications applications.
There is the perspective that HiSilicon has approximately 4,000 engineers, of which 3,500 are design engineers. The key foundry partner for HiSilicon is TSMC, with a number of standard cell and ASSP designs in 28-nm. A key attribute of TSMC is the support of a wide base of IP, which is important for standard cell ASICs.
Actually, EE Times knew about Huawei's great focus on custom chips for a while.
We had a story on "Focus on Chip Engineering Rewrites Huawei's Story" at our EE Times Confidential site more than a year ago.
Rick Merrit interviewed Bill Lynch, a veteran microprocessor architect (ex Cisco), who is now working at Huawei in that story.