Huawei’s ARM-based desktop PC could leave you scratching your head

Ewdison Then - Jul 6, 2020, 9:46 pm CDT
0
Huawei’s ARM-based desktop PC could leave you scratching your head

A lot of focus has been placed on Huawei’s predicament regarding its smartphones and networking business vis-a-vis US trade bans but those aren’t the only things the company is worried about. It has also started to dabble in the PC market and it will face the same restrictions when trying to get its hands on Intel or AMD silicon and Microsoft software. Its solution is, of course, to roll out its own replacements for those but one review of a Huawei PC doesn’t inspire confidence in its chances.

It might actually be harder for Huawei to replace Intel and AMD processors because it has never made CPUs based on the x86/64 architectures. It does have, however, have an ARM v8-based 7nm HiSilicon Kunpeng 920, from the same subsidiary that makes its Kirin chips for phones. While that processor seems to have potential, its performance in practice on a desktop computer left a whole lot to be desired.

A Chinese YouTuber sought out to buy such a Huawei desktop for 7,500 RMB ($1,060) and it came with the chip soldered to Huawei’s own D920S10 desktop motherboard, typical for ARM-based systems. With 16GB of RAM and a Yeston Radeon RX550 graphics card, you’d presume this computer would fly. Unfortunately, it rendered a BMW 3D model in Blender for almost 12 minutes.

Part of the problem is Huawei’s replacement for Windows, a Linux-based Unity OS (not to be confused with Ubuntu’s Unity). While the OS itself performed smoothly, the apps running on it didn’t. The YouTuber even had to pay 800 RMB ($115) to get access to the UOS app store which had a very limited selection of software. Any Linux user would expect popular proprietary software like Microsoft Office and Adobe’s Creative apps to be absent but the store also strangely didn’t support running 32-bit programs either.

Chinese consumers have never had access to Google Play Store from the beginning and Huawei may be banking on that to get its smartphones through these trying times. That isn’t true for desktops and laptops, however, and it may have a harder time selling these computers. Of course, the country as a whole has been trying to wean itself from dependence on US products but this Huawei PC’s performance doesn’t exactly do a great job at selling that idea either.


Must Read Bits & Bytes