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Here comes the warning: a shortage of low-end chips and the chaos is back! Should we be worried?

time:2022-09-06 11:43:14 source: browse:121

The chip industry is full of branches and treacherous. A few days ago, TSMC President Wei Chieh-jia issued another warning: the shortage of low-end chips is making the entire semiconductor industry suffer.

What are the low-end chips? Shortage will bring what impact? In this global chip shortage chaos, "Chinese core" how to break the blockade, highlight the siege?

What will happen to the shortage of low-end chips?

Small to everyday LED lights and cell phones, large to cars, rockets, robots, are inseparable from the chip known as industrial "food".

Chips are also divided into "high and low". The general advanced process chip manufactured by the various functions and parameters are bound to be higher, the production and manufacturing costs are correspondingly higher. Usually more than 40 nanometers called low-end chips, 20-40 nanometers called mid-range, 14 nanometers and below called high-end chips.

But this is not absolute. For example, the same power control chip, in the industrial field, its process, power consumption and complex functions and other requirements are low, but also low-end chip; and applied to communications, aerospace and other fields, due to its stability, power consumption, power conversion efficiency and other high requirements, but is a high-end chip.

Even with the "low-end" hat, the absence of a small chip can also bring big problems. 2021 occupies 51% of the global chip foundry market share of TSMC said that the shortage of low-end chips due to a series of impact.

Not only that, a number of related industries around the world are also suffering from a shortage of low-end chips brought about by the "torture". Such as cutting-edge very deep ultraviolet lithography (EUV) cost more than $100 million per unit, but if one of the 10 cents worth of chip components shortage, the entire equipment can not be shipped. Similarly, a car priced at $50,000 may not be delivered because of the lack of 50 cents worth of radio chips.

Low-end chip how to "friction" the entire industry chain?

According to the relevant enterprise query software in August, China's existing chip-related enterprises 142,900. 2022 in the first half of the year, 30,800 new domestic chip-related enterprises.

Some professional analysis believes that China's current chip production capacity of up to 1 billion per day. Especially low-end chip technology threshold is relatively low, relatively small investment, quick results, many emerging chip companies choose to "start" first.

Then the question arises. In that case, why is the lack of low-end chips?

In fact, TSMC is also just reacted. Wei Zhejia said, when hearing the car manufacturer told the lack of semiconductor, once wondered why it did not stockpile in advance. It was not until later that TSMC equipment suppliers also had delivery problems due to component and chip shortages that they came to their senses.

Zhang Yang, a senior analyst at Beijing Boruiheng Consulting Co., Ltd, in an interview with China News Agency's State Direct, believes that the shortage of low-end chips is mainly caused by the impact of the epidemic on the supply chain and raw materials, not by capacity or technical constraints. From the application field, it is mainly the automotive chip supply pressure, and the automotive chip is mainly 48nm or 28nm, which can be classified as a low-end chip. However, the shortage of automotive chips or even low-end chips also has the factor of middlemen hoarding to pull up prices.

Applied Materials, the world's largest supplier of semiconductor manufacturing equipment (Applied Materials), said the backlog of orders is increasing due to difficulties in obtaining enough semiconductors to manufacture equipment.

NVIDIA Corp. also said it could not get equipment to support chip production, such as power converters and transceivers, because of a shortage of low-end chips, and this relates to its ability to produce more data center products.

Zhang Yang said, from China's application areas, the chip shortage affects mainly automotive manufacturing, high-end equipment manufacturing and other manufacturing industries, the intuitive performance is the shortage of parts and components supply, price increases lead to the whole machine capacity constraints, rising costs, these adverse effects will be gradually transmitted to various fields through various ways.

But in the low-end chip market, the domestic substitution effect has also begun to appear.

On the supply side, for some design, development of less difficult chip areas, a large number of domestic chip manufacturers have increased production capacity; on the demand side, for some components with relatively low security requirements, domestic car manufacturers are also willing to introduce some domestic chips. The increase in the number of suppliers, but also to a certain extent to ease the shortage of low-end chip dilemma.

Breakthrough "Chinese core"!

The world's multiple forces have shot at the chip this less than "millimeter" place to start the battle, especially the United States through a series of means to implement the chip blockade policy, frequently sanctions the spearhead pointed at the relevant Chinese enterprises.

According to Gu Wenjun, chief analyst of Core Consulting, in the short term, the United States hopes to make China in the high precision part of the chip "decoupling" "broken chain". In the medium and long term, the United States hopes that they and their allies will no longer rely too much on the Chinese market, and reduce the production factors with China.

But the Russian satellite news agency quoted scholars as saying, "U.S. chip restrictions cannot stop the advance of China's semiconductor industry." As for whether these restrictions will have a long-term impact on China, it depends on the development of China's semiconductor industry manufacturing and design.

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology spokesman and chief engineer Tian Yulong previously said that the development of the chip industry is facing opportunities and challenges, and needs to strengthen cooperation on a global scale to jointly build the chip industry chain to make it more healthy and sustainable. The Chinese government will give strong support at the national level.

Zhang Yang believes that the current global and Chinese chip industry, the domestic low-end chip supply (capacity) is not a problem, but the mid-range 40nm to 55nm process chip supply will be tight for a period of time, but the domestic alternative products have entered the market to start "relief".

At the same time, the high-end chip market is still a serious problem, overcome this bottleneck depends on domestic enterprises to accelerate the research and development process and the entire industry chain upstream and downstream synergy.

Zhang Yang said frankly, chip manufacturing breakthroughs in various aspects require a lot of money, manpower and material resources, which makes it difficult for most companies to continue to invest. Therefore, from the perspective of technological research, national research institutions and large state-owned enterprises are the main force in the attack, the overall atmosphere inside and outside the industry also needs to be improved, to recognize the technological gap with foreign countries, one step at a time to catch up and maintain sufficient patience.