The “core force” of a chip is not just design, but also manufacturing capabilities

As we all know, Huawei’s most thorny problem today is chips. Huawei’s mobile phone sector has huge demand for chips, but Huawei’s chip design company, Huawei HiSilicon, only has chip design and does not have chip processing capabilities. Therefore, Huawei has repeatedly been limited to chips. processing.

Recently, Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, caused a lot of discussion. He said, “The difficulty that Huawei encounters today is the advanced chip it has designed. The basic industry in China has not yet been able to produce it. It is impossible for Huawei to make products and make chips. “As we all know, the domestic semiconductor industry has been sprinting for this marathon for many years, and my country’s semiconductor industry has been stuck. The most critical part is in chip manufacturing, and the equipment represented by lithography machines is an important reason for the inability to break through in China. .

Equipment is the cornerstone of semiconductor manufacturing, but the market is basically monopolized by foreign capital

The lithography machine is known as the “jewel in the crown” of the semiconductor industry. It is the core machine in chip manufacturing. The entire lithography process is also the longest, most expensive, and most critical step in the chip production process.

The “core force” of a chip is not just design, but also manufacturing capabilities

At present, the lithography machine industry is basically monopolized by three suppliers, ASML in the Netherlands, Nikon and Canon in Japan. According to CCID Consulting data, the global lithography machine market size is about 16 billion US dollars, and the three leading companies ASML, Nikon and Canon occupy a total of 95% of the market, of which the EUV market is almost exclusively dominated by ASML.

In fact, China can also produce lithography machines, but with China’s current technology, only low-end lithography machine equipment can be produced, chips with 90nm and above processes can be produced, and high-end lithography machines with 7nm or even 5nm chips can be produced. Basically all supply by ASML.

The development of domestic semiconductor equipment is at the right time

With the escalation of Sino-US trade frictions, breaking the monopoly, increasing the localization rate, and striving to realize the independent control of semiconductor equipment are the top priorities. In this context, the state supports the localization of semiconductor equipment in terms of policies and funds. The second phase of the National Fund’s support focuses on domestic semiconductor equipment and materials. It is mentioned that the development of lithography machines and chemical mechanical grinding equipment will be accelerated. and other core equipment, as well as the investment layout of key components, to fill the gap of domestic process equipment.

With the support of factors such as national policies and funds, China’s lithography industry has also made some progress today.

Recently, according to industry insiders, Shanghai Microelectronics has announced the development of a 28-nanometer lithography machine. It is expected that this 28-nanometer lithography machine will be mass-produced between the end of 2021 and 2022, and this 28-nanometer lithography machine has passed many times. After exposure, it can be used to produce 14nm or even 10nm chips.

As the most technologically advanced and largest wafer foundry company in mainland China, SMIC has developed its manufacturing process from a 0.18-micron technology node to today’s N+1 process for many years. A few days ago, Innosilicon, a one-stop IP and custom chip company, officially announced that it has completed the world’s first chip taping and testing based on SMIC’s FinFET N+1 advanced process.

In the research of lithography machine technology, there has been good news this year: in June 2020, the carbon-based nanotube chip research and development team composed of academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Peng Lianmao and Professor Zhang Zhiyong has made significant achievements in the field of new carbon-based semiconductors. In July 2020, the Suzhou Institute of Nanotechnology and Nano-Bionics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences successfully developed a new 5nm high-precision laser lithography processing method.

Although these technologies are all in the laboratory stage, breakthroughs have been made in at least some basic theories, and these laboratory technologies may be transformed into realistic production technologies in the future. I believe that with the joint efforts of Chinese researchers, enterprises and other parties, domestic substitution will be realized and the gap with the international top level will be narrowed!

The insufficiency of chip processing and manufacturing is not only reflected in the semiconductor industry, but also reflects the difference in manufacturing between China and Western countries as a whole. In terms of manufacturing process, my country’s manufacturing technology can only be explored step by step, and there is no shortcut at all.

Author: Yoyokuo