The rise of domestic giants, the wave of localization of wafer smart manufacturing is surging

As we all know, the semiconductor industry is a basic, strategic and leading industry for the development of modern economy and society, and it is an important way for my country to achieve sustained economic growth and break the middle-income trap. Vigorously promoting the development of the semiconductor industry and promoting the intelligent manufacturing of semiconductor products are of great significance to the development of my country’s real economy and the prosperity of commercial trade at present and in the future.

my country’s annual import of integrated circuits exceeds 300 billion US dollars, accounting for 2/3 of the global production volume. Under the current international situation, the localization and technological upgrading of integrated circuits is an important way to promote the upgrading of my country’s manufacturing industry and ensure the safety and control of the supply chain. As a major part of my country’s semiconductor industry, the importance of wafers is self-evident.

Wafer refers to the silicon wafer used to make silicon semiconductor integrated circuits, and its raw material is silicon. From the perspective of the entire industry chain, packaging and wafer manufacturing are indispensable links in chip production. With the development and evolution of technology, the importance of packaging continues to increase, and it has become one of the core competitiveness of foundries. At the same time, many companies have also begun to explore the way of wafer manufacturing.

Last year, Cerebras Systems took the lead in launching the Wafer Scale Engine (WSE), a wafer-level AI processor, which attracted high attention in the industry. What will happen to wafer manufacturing in 2020?

Statistics from Japanese media show that in the second quarter of this year, the number of global wafer fabs was that TSMC alone accounted for 51.5% of the manufacturing share, ranking first. Samsung came in second with a share of 18.8%. GlobalFoundries, UMC and SMIC ranked third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Specifically, in the second quarter of 2019, TSMC’s share of the global market was only 30.4%, and now it has been upgraded to 51.5%, and its growth is very obvious. There are two main reasons for this. First, because of the rise and upgrade of 5G mobile phones, the requirements for chips are higher, so TSMC, which has an advantage in 5G chip foundry, can gain greater advantages; second, Huawei has been affected by the chip crisis. After the middle of the month, it began to place an additional $700 million in orders to TSMC.

From the perspective of size, there are currently three types of wafers used in the most mainstream wafers in the global chip market: 6 inches, 8 inches, and 12 inches. At present, 12-inch wafers are the mainstream in the market, and nearly 70% of the production capacity is 12-inch wafers. From the perspective of the field of use, the current strong demand for 12-inch wafers is memory chips (DRAM and NAND), and 8-inch wafers are more used in automotive electronics and other fields.

In addition to IC wafer foundry, providing complete supporting services in photomask manufacturing, design services and IP support, bump processing and testing will become an important way for industry giants to stabilize their position. In addition, accelerating technological upgrades will also become the core content of the entrants’ focus, and creating high-quality products through technological upgrades will also bring more possibilities for some companies to “overtake on curves”.

In terms of technology iteration speed, after the semiconductor manufacturing technology enters the 14/16nm node, it is necessary to use the FinFET process to suppress the problems of TRANSISTOR leakage and controllability reduction, which leads to a substantial increase in the difficulty of technology development and capital investment. Thresholds are also seen as entry criteria for advanced process technologies. Next, chip manufacturers and science and technology companies need to be down-to-earth, explore and try more in related cutting-edge technologies, and strive to make breakthroughs.

Of course, the healthy and sustainable development of the entire semiconductor industry requires the coordination of all links in the industry chain, including upstream semiconductor manufacturing equipment and wafer foundry material suppliers, as well as the collaborative innovation and progress of many IC design companies. Next, let us wait for the “big moves” of domestic wafer companies.

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