Policy Trend(Nov. 6)
Canon disrupts EUV to mass produce 5nm chips! The CEO of Canon: unable to ship nanoimprint Litho tool to China!
In mid-October, Canon announced to sell FPA-1200NZ2C, a chip manufacturing tool based on nano-imprinting lithography (NIL). Canon said that its NIL tool, different from the traditional complex photolithography machines, can be used to produce 5nm chips. Previously, Canon focused on producing equipment for less advanced chips. but in 2014, Canon began investing in nanoimprint technology after acquiring Molecular Imprints Inc. In past 10 years, Canon has been working with Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP), a market leader in photomasks for manufacturing semiconductors, and Kioxia, a manufacturer of memory chips, to develop nanoimprint technology. The technology allows to advance the process node technology to 5nm without the use of EUV mask aligners. Due to the export control of advanced semiconductor devices released by the United States and the Netherlands, the practitioners in China are interested in Canons chip manufacturing equipment based on its latest nanoimprint technology that can bypass EUV technology to produce 5nm chips and believes that this may be a path to bypass the United States restrictions to cut off China from manufacturing advanced chips. In fact, however, ICsmart referred to Japans export control list and found the restriction on exporting "imprint lithography device capable of manufacturing chips of line width less than 45nm". The CEO of Canon also said in a recent interview that Canon may not be able to export these chip-making equipment (based on nanoimprinting technology) to China. Exports of anything beyond 14nm technology is banned, so Canon will be unable to sell its NIL equipment.
At present, the mass production of advanced chips below 7nm node mainly relies on ASMLs EUV mask aligner, but only a few cash-rich companies can invest in buying such EUV mask aligners. On June 30th, the Dutch government officially announced new controls for exports of semiconductor production equipment, restricting ASML to export EUV systems and advanced immersion DUV systems to China. This also means that China will face great difficulties in making breakthroughs to reach 5nm process node or go to more sophisticated processes. This new NIL technology will open the way for small semiconductor manufacturers to produce advanced chips. In addition, NIL equipment can also enable chip manufacturers to reduce their dependence on ASMLs EUV mask aligners, thus giving TSMC, Samsung and other wafer fabs another route choice, because they can use NIL technology to produce small batch chips for clients more flexibly. Furthermore, chip designers can produce their own small batches of chips without relying on wafer fabs.
Company Trend(Nov. 7)
Hyundai Motors, Kia Corporation and Infineon sign long-term supply agreement for power semiconductors
On November 7, Infineon Technologies AG and Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation have signed a multi-year supply agreement for silicon carbide (SiC) and silicon (Si) power semiconductors. Infineon will build and reserve its manufacturing capacity to supply SiC and Si power modules and chips to Hyundai/Kia until 2030. Hyundai/Kia will contribute funds to support the capacity build-up and capacity reservation of Infineon. The Executive Vice President and Head of Global Strategy Office (GSO) at Hyundai Motor Group said that Infineon is the valued strategic partner of Hyundai and has steadfast production capabilities and distinct technological prowess within the power semiconductor market. He added that this partnership not only empowers Hyundai Motor and Kia to stabilize their semiconductor supply but also positions them to solidify their leadership in the global EV market, underpinned by their competitive product lineups. The President of Infineons Automotive Division said that the future car would be clean, safe and smart and semiconductors play a core role in this transformation. As a trusted partner, Infineon would contribute premium products of high quality, system knowledge and application understanding combined with continued investments in manufacturing capacity to address the increasing demand for automotive power electronics.
The power semiconductors manufactured by Infineon are key enablers for the transition to electromobility. This transition will bring strong market growth for power semiconductors, especially those based on wide bandgap materials such as SiC. With the significant expansion of its Kulim fab, Infineon will build the worlds largest 200mm SiC power fab and further enhance its market-leading role as a high-quality, high-volume supplier to the automotive industry. According to Infineons multi-site strategy, the Kulim fab will complement Infineons current manufacturing capacity in Villach, Austria, and further capacity expansions in Dresden, Germany.
Market Trend(Nov. 8)
Car chip inventory is vexing!
Today cars need a lot of chips. That has been a heaven-sent opportunity for the semiconductor industry and also a big complication. The industry has fallen in a historic downturn for more than a year now. The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) reported last week that worldwide sales of chips in September fell 4.5% YoY. That made for the 14th straight month of sales declines—a continuous decline not seen in more than a decade. This streak is seen in the third quarter results announced by NXP Semiconductors on Monday night. NXP Semiconductors is one of the largest chip suppliers in the automotive industry, with more than half of its revenue from the industry. The companys third-quarter automotive revenue rose less than 5% YoY, the slowest growth over the past three years. It also expects to see a mid-single digit growth in the fourth quarter, which means that the sector will grow 9% for the whole year, following a 25% growth last year. Analysts had been predicting a slowdown in the automotive industry. The CEO of NXP said on NXPs earnings call Tuesday morning that the company is "intentionally under-shipping demand"to reduce the risk of swelling inventory. He added that the automotive industry is expected to reduce excess inventory in H2 next year.
Market Trend(Nov. 9)
Vietnam develops its first 5G chip
The Vietnam-based company Viettel Group started the research of 5G chip technology in 2019 and then confirms that it has taken full control of the 5G telecommunications infrastructure, ensuring strong protection within the industry. Recently, Viettel announced a significant event in the Vietnamese technology industry at the International Innovation Exhibition Vietnam 2023 (VIIE 2023). The Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel) launched a 5G chip. This marks the latest advancement, affirming that Viettel has taken full control of the 5G telecommunications infrastructure, encompassing everything from wireless transceivers, switching devices, transmission equipment, wireless access devices to the core network. The first 5G DFE chip series in Vietnam belongs to the 5G product ecosystem completely designed by Viettels engineers. This is the first and only instance in Vietnam where the most advanced and complex chip within the 5G ecosystem has been developed and successfully tested by Vietnamese engineers at Viettel. The 5G DFE chip series, capable of performing 1,000 trillion calculations per second, has won high recognization by reputable partners such as Synopsys, a leading global integrated circuit design provider.
As a latecomer in 4G, Viettel has transformed Vietnam into the sixth country in the world capable of manufacturing 5G network equipment, and it is the world’s only company that operates a telecommunications network while studying and producing equipment, especially 5G network devices. This ensures a secure and robust telecommunications foundation to serve the national digital transformation strategy. Viettels ability to fully master the chip design process represents a key step in Vietnams deeper engagement in the global semiconductor industry.
Trends of some domestic industries
1.MediaTek released Dimensity 9300, with the first groundbreaking All-Big-Core design(Nov. 7)
MediaTeks previous generation flagship chip, Dimensity 9200, had an the "1+3+4" eight core design. With the advent of the AI era, the terminal has a stronger demand for chip performance. MediaTek also believes that cell phone chips need to evolve - to push CPU into the "all-big-core" era, which is why they used four Arm Cortex™-X4 cores with frequency up to 3.25GHz and four Cortex-A720 cores with frequency up to 2.0GHz to maximize performance. The Director of product planning of the Wireless Communications Business Unit at MediaTek said that, in the era of advanced process node, due to the inevitable increase in leakage current, the energy-saving small core chips do not actually perform much better than the big core chips in terms of power consumption. Moreover, this problem will become more and more serious in subsequent developments. Thats why MediaTek discarded "small core" of CPU for its Dimensity 9300, to create a stronger "all-big-core" processor with more efficient performance in task processing. Test data showed that MediaTeks Dimensity 9300 offers a 40% improvement in peak performance compared to last year’s Dimensity 9200 and its faster, more efficient and higher energy efficiency features can meet the computing needs in congestion situations.
2.Quectel sends letter to Renesas demanding to cease false accusation that "Quectels modules are on a U.S. government banned list"(Nov. 8)
According to eeewseurope, Quectel Wireless Solutions (Shanghai), a global IoT solutions provider, today sent a cease-and-desist letter to Renesas Electronics Corporation of Tokyo, Japan, demanding that it immediately cease the false saying that Quectel’s modules are on a U.S. government banned list. Quectel claimed that Renesas Electronics sent a PPT to Quectels cusotmers, saying that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a request from the U.S. House of Representatives to ban Quectels IoT modules, and such modules has been on the banned list. Quectel admitted that it has submitted a response letter to FCC, seeking to demonstrate that its modules do not pose a risk to national security or privacy. One of the issues discussed was that Quectel could somehow retain control over IoT modules, even if the company has no data leakage behaviors, it still could disable the modules designed into critical infrastructures. Quectel said that the letter sent by the special committee of the US Congress to the FCC had several misconceptions about how Quectel modules work.
3.VIVO unveiled its another self-developed chip(Nov. 8)
According to the report of IT Home, VIVOs iQOO will officially release iQOO 12 series phones tonight. In addition to the third-generation Snapdragon 8, another feature of the series is VIVOs self-developed Q1 gaming chip. The report points out that VIVOs self-developed gaming chip Q1 is equipped with a new generation of self-developed super-resolution technology, and uses parallel volume rendering method, which achieved a 4-fold increase in sampling efficiency and a 30% increase in execution efficiency, and significantly reduced power consumption by 10%. VIVOs self-developed superframe technology is also used in the iQOO12 series, pushing more than 100 games into the era of 144 high frame. In fact, this is not VIVOs first self-developed chip. After the release of V1, VIVO successfully made a breakthrough in chips; from V1 to V1+, VIVO is constantly solidifying its strength in the field of chips. Now, perhaps V2, VIVOs next generation of self-developed professional imaging chip based on the new AI ISP architecture, has enabled VIVO to complete another evolution in the chip field. This also enabled VIVO to take a foothold in the chip industry and have strength to advance into the deep-water area of technology.