Huawei forges ahead with smartphone launch plan with new chipset

Consumers will need new handsets to take advantage of the ultrafast download speeds promised by ultra-fast 5G networks. (Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2019

Huawei forges ahead with smartphone launch plan with new chipset

  • The Chinese tech giant bills the Kirin 990 chipset as the first all-in-one 5G system on a chip
  • Consumers will need new handsets to take advantage of the ultrafast download speeds promised by 5G

BERLIN: Huawei Technologies showcased its chipset for a new high-end smartphone on Friday, pressing ahead with plans to launch its Mate 30 range, despite uncertainty about whether the new phones will be able to run Google’s Android operating system and apps.
The Chinese tech giant bills the Kirin 990 chipset as the first all-in-one 5G system on a chip, describing it as superior to alternatives from Qualcomm and Samsung that, it says, graft 5G modems on to 4G chips.
The launch at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin of the Kirin 990, made using the latest 7 nanometer production process, is part of a carefully sequenced buildup to the Sept. 19 international launch of the Mate 30 in Munich.
Yet, say Huawei sources, it is still not known whether the Mate 30 will be able to run services from Alphabet’s Google following the blacklisting of the Chinese company by the US administration in May.
That ban sliced 5 percentage points off Huawei’s market share in Europe.
The world’s No.2 smartphone maker is looking to reclaim ground as the spread of ultra-fast 5G networks prompts an upgrade cycle among consumers who have been holding on to phones for longer. Consumers will need new handsets to take advantage of the ultrafast download speeds promised by 5G.
The services in doubt include pre-installing the Google Play store and a suite of popular apps such as Google Maps that buyers would expect to be available from the moment they turn on their new phone and synch it with their profile.
Huawei’s fallback option would be to run the devices on its home-grown Harmony operating system, although company officials and analysts say it is not yet ready for prime time.
“The elephant in the room is Google,” said Peter Richardson of Counterpoint Research, after attending a technical briefing on the Kirin 990 by Huawei managers that skirted the issue and focused only on the chipset’s specifications.
The Kirin 990 packs more than 10 billion transistors and can support downlink speeds of up to 2.3 gigabits per second.
It has an adaptive receiver that enables it to switch between 4G and 5G where coverage of the faster technology is weak.
And, to save energy, it has a ‘big core’ to handle powerful computing tasks with the support of artificial intelligence, and a ‘tiny core’ for less demanding operation.
Huawei plans only to use the Kirin 990 in its own devices, meaning it lacks the marketing opportunities enjoyed by Qualcomm, whose chips already power the Samsung 5G phones, such as the Galaxy 10, already on the market.
Apple’s recent settlement of a patent dispute with Qualcomm, and Intel’s exit from the smartphone modem business also reflect the US chipmaker’s muscle in a global market that is increasingly fragmenting due to the US-China trade tension.
“Qualcomm has a scale advantage,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. “Huawei’s commitment to continue innovating on silicon is really impressive, especially given the geopolitical headwinds they are facing.
“But at the end of the day, it’s a single-vendor solution. And, even if they had aspirations to sell the chipset, that is getting more difficult all the time.”


OECD forecast sees global growth at decade low

Updated 22 November 2019

OECD forecast sees global growth at decade low

  • Governments failing to get to grips with challenges, outlook says

PARIS: The global economy is growing at the slowest pace since the financial crisis as governments leave it to central banks to revive investment, the OECD said on Thursday in an update of its forecasts.

The world economy is projected to grow by a decade-low 2.9 percent this year and next, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its Economic Outlook, trimming its 2020 forecast from an estimate of 3 percent in September.

Offering meagre consolation, the Paris-based policy forum forecast growth would edge up to 3 percent in 2021, but only if a myriad of risks ranging from trade wars to an unexpectedly sharp Chinese slowdown is contained.

A bigger concern, however, is that governments are failing to get to grips with global challenges such as climate change, the digitalization of their economies and the crumbling of the multilateral order that emerged after the fall of Communism.

“It would be a policy mistake to consider these shifts as temporary factors that can be addressed with monetary or fiscal policy: they are structural,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone wrote in the report.

Without clear policy direction on these issues, “uncertainty will continue to loom high, damaging growth prospects,” she added.

Among the major economies, US growth was forecast at 2.3 percent this year, trimmed from 2.4 percent in September as the fiscal impulse from a 2017 tax cut waned and amid weakness among US trading partners.

With the world’s biggest economy seen growing 2 percent in 2020 and 2021, the OECD said further interest rate cuts would be warranted only if growth turned weaker.

China, which is not an OECD member but is tracked by it, was forecast to grow marginally faster in 2019 than had been expected in September, with growth of 6.2 percent rather than 6.1 percent.

However, the OECD said that China would keep losing momentum, with growth of 5.7 percent expected in 2020 and 5.5 percent in 2021 in the face of trade tensions and a gradual rebalancing of activity away from exports to the domestic economy.

In the euro area, growth was seen at 1.2 percent in 2019 and 1.1 percent in 2020, up both years by 0.1 percentage point on the September forecast. It is seen at 1.2 percent in 2021.

The OECD warned that the relaunch of bond buying at the European Central Bank would have a limited impact if euro area countries did not boost investment.

The outlook for Britain improved marginally from September as the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU recedes.

British growth was upgraded to 1.2 percent this year from 1 percent previously and was seen at 1 percent in 2020.