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Former SMIC executive: China’s semiconductors are in three major difficulties | Li Wei | Chips

Former SMIC executive: China’s semiconductors are in three major difficulties | Li Wei | Chips
Former SMIC executive: China’s semiconductors are in three major difficulties | Li Wei | Chips

A former SMIC executive admitted that only about 10% of equipment can be made domestically. The picture shows the Shenzhen branch of SMIC. (Liang Xiashun/VCG via Getty Images)

[The Epoch Times, November 13, 2023]The development of China’s semiconductor industry has been restricted by the export control measures imposed by the United States. Li Wei, former vice president of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), recently pointed out that the development of China’s semiconductor industry lacks independent core key technologies and lacks High-end talent team lacks motivation and planning for long-term development. It is said that only about 10% of semiconductor-related materials, equipment, design software, etc. can be produced domestically.

According to a report by “The Paper” on the 12th, Li Wei recently admitted at the 12th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Small and Medium Enterprises Technology Exchange and Exhibition held in Qingdao, Shandong Province that China’s semiconductor technology as a whole lags behind international standards for more than five years. Currently, related materials, Equipment, design software, etc. are dependent on imports, and only about 10% of equipment can be produced domestically. “This is the biggest weakness of China’s chip industry.”

Li Wei said that foreign countries’ implementation of export controls on advanced technology and equipment to China has indeed constituted an obstacle to industrial development. In the global chip market, China accounts for more than one-third, and more than 85% of chip demand is met through imports.

Li Wei further said that there are three major problems in the development of China’s semiconductor industry, including the lack of independent core key technologies, the lack of high-end talent teams, and the lack of long-term development motivation and planning.

Li Wei believes that except for a few fields such as communications and artificial intelligence (AI) that require the use of 2 nanometers, 28 nanometers can already meet the needs of most civilian and military markets. Instead of investing heavily in breaking through the 2 nanometer technology system, we should consider prioritizing development. Localization of 20nm to 90nm chips.

The U.S.-China technology war has begun in full swing, covering many fields such as AI, chips, and applications.

On October 7, 2022, the U.S. government announced new export restrictions on high-end chips and chip manufacturing equipment to prevent the CCP from borrowing U.S. technology to advance its military development. One of them is to restrict “Americans” (US persons) from supporting development in China. , produce or use chips.

In the context of the U.S.-China technology war, the CCP has been advocating chip independence and investing a lot of money. In the CCP’s “Made in China 2025” plan, it plans to reduce the proportion of chips imported from China from 85% to 30% by 2025.

Xu Chenggang, a Stanford professor with long-term research on technological innovation, believes that all industrial revolutions took place under the British and American systems and were jointly created by geniuses from all over the world. As long as any country is isolated from developed countries and has no exchanges and cooperation, it will definitely fall behind. Therefore, if a country wants to achieve great scientific development, the prerequisite is internationalization.

At almost every step in the process of producing semiconductors, China relies heavily on foreign technology, almost all of which is controlled by its geopolitical rivals (Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, or the United States). After the past methods of stealing technology were discovered, the most important method adopted by the CCP was to poach talents from semiconductor powerhouses such as Taiwan and South Korea to steal technology.

However, Dai Zhiyan, an associate researcher at the Institute of International Economics of the China Economic Research Institute, told The Epoch Times on November 1 that judging from the existing chip architecture, it is very difficult to develop a system that can compete with the United States. It cannot be developed by just having the right people in place.

“China currently lacks very good IC design companies. IC design companies need to design good chips and have good foundries to help them make them, so that the chips can be used. Now this is probably all blocked, and chip design tools are not available. China. Now Chinese chip manufacturers, under the US ban, can probably only achieve 14 nanometers at most.”

He said that SMIC wants to be a foundry, but it can only do it if there are good enough Chinese design companies to design chips. At present, China is weak in this area, and its market share in the world is not good. This cannot be achieved by throwing money at it. It will work out, it’s not this kind of logic.

Brad Liao, senior manager of IC design in Taiwan, said that once many of the most advanced things of the Chinese Communist Party are strangled by the United States, the equipment aspect will be the most difficult. Over time, it will start to fall behind, and it can only stand still and cannot move to a higher level. Ran. The more advanced the chip, the more complex it becomes. When designing the chip, a lot of software is needed to help, and those software are also stuck.

Editor in charge: Ning Feng#

The article is in Chinese

Tags: SMIC executive Chinas semiconductors major difficulties Wei Chips


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