Friday, May 24, 2019

FT: 15% of Sony CIS Sales Go to Huawei

FT discusses the US ban on components sale to Huawei. As Panasonic and Toshiba halt shipping their chips to the Chinese company, a question arises about Sony image sensors. They are used in all Huawei flagship phones and are difficult to substitute.

When contacted, Sony executives declined to comment on that. Jefferies analyst Atul Goyal estimates that Sony image sensor sales to Huawei is about 15% of the company's total CIS production. Oppo and Vivo use Sony sensors too, so if Huawei loses its market share to them, it should not impact Sony much. However, if Samsung takes over Huawei's products, Sony sales might suffer.


  1. Is Omnivision a Chinese company or American company?
    I am surprised to hear that ARM is originally American company,
    so ARM stops coworking with Huawei.

  2. I don't think ARM is originally American, I think the problem is that they have development center in Austin. This subjects them to US laws.

  3. No, not American. See this recent news about the founding CEO.

  4. It has been said that the ARM cores licensed to HW have been developped in US design center.

    1. "ARM is concerned it is affected by the US ban, with an internal memo reportedly revealing that its chip designs include “US origin technology.” ARM develops some processor designs in Austin, Texas and San Jose, California, which could place it under the US restrictions. Huawei relies on ARM for chip architecture designs for its own Kirin processors, and it pays to license these. Without the licenses, Huawei will not be able to continue manufacturing its own processors using ARM designs and its HiSilicon fabless semiconductor company."

      It seems to me that a license is a "done deal" or past sale. So if Huawei uses ARM IP under that license deal, maybe it is ARM that suffers since it cannot legally receive new payments? It is all quite complex and bound to get more complex.

    2. ARM these days is a subsidiary of SoftBank, which is HQ'd in Japan. I think Softbank founder Son is pretty close to Trump, as well as the leadership of KSA. So it is even more complicated as these multi-internationals often are. BTW, I didnt know much about Softbank or Masayoshi Son. This interview was very interesting:

    3. Usually, ARM license has an upfront fee and then royalties. The upfront payment depends on the type of license - regular or architectural. In case of regular license, ARM only delivers GDS II file and a set of integration docs. The architectural license is much more expensive and includes full RTL code, timing constraints, everything needed for synthesis and P&R, and a set of test benches, so that the customer can modify the processor, optimize it for the target application or code, etc.

      Very few companies in the world buy the expensive architectural license - Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung. Huawei is one of them.

      Potentially, ARM is going to lose the future architectural licenses upfront fees. I'm not sure what happens with royalties for the past licenses. Probably, they would keep coming.

      For a long time, Huawei and other Chinese companies contemplate switching to an open source RISC-V processor. May be, ARM refusal would be an additional incentive for them now.

  5. If US generated IP is the issue, Sony is "mostly" okay with Japanese generated IP except for the Pixim acquisition. The Pixim IP is mostly in higher end sensors for security cameras and the like. I don't know if any of the Pixim ended up in the mobile sensors.


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