Disruptive Tech Asean learnt from Li Ke from China Semiconductor Industry Association (CSIA) that an integrated circuit industry is vital for developing modern industries, and China is therefore imperative to localize chip industry supply chain and develop homegrown-core chips. Li Ke believes that China will have the ability to fully mass-produce its own 28nm chips in one or two years, as well as having a completely domestic industry chain and independent chip manufacturing capabilities.
According to Gartner’s forecast at the end of 2019, the global semiconductor market would grow by 12.5% in 2020. Yet, with devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forecast was revised to a decline of 0.9%. According to Andrew Norwood, Research Vice President at Gartner, “COVID-19 has distorted supply chain and manufacturing operations across the world and will lead to a drastic drop in consumer and enterprise spending across most areas with a few exceptions.”
The US-China trade war has also caused impacts on the development progress. Andrew Norwood added that trade war pushes several Chinese companies, including Huawei, into looking for alternative silicon suppliers – “with wholly-owned HiSilicon at the top of the list as well as alternative suppliers based in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China”.
Last year, China’s Integrated Circuit (IC) industry generated over CNY750 billion. It is expected to reach CNY900 billion this year, with production capacity of over 20% of the world’s total. China chip manufacturing industry chain has emerged with the support of policies in response to global events. In just few years, China has narrowed the gap with world-leading IC technologies, continuous breakthroughs in IC manufacturing, research and development (R&D) as well as the industrialisation of major processes with division of applications.
Chinese chip customisation solution provider, Innosilicon, had completed the testing of a prototype chip based on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC)’s FinFET N+1 process in last month. N+1, SMIC’s new generation foundry node, is comparable to the 7nm process by the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
Disruptive Tech Asean believes that N+1 fabrication technology will be SMIC’s next major node following developments after the 14nm and 12nm semiconductor manufacturing. SMIC mentioned that when compared to its 14nm node, the N+1 technology improves performance by up to 20% and reduces power by 57% while potentially increasing transistor density by up to 2.7 times. Disruptive Tech Asean also comments that with challenging sanctions, the Chinese chip industry has had to reinvent itself and innovate quickly to meet soaring demands and become self-reliant in chip production.