Chinese foundry gearing up for automotive IC boom

Staff reporter, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Nexchip Semiconductor, a Chinese mature-node IC foundry, has stepped up its deployment in the automotive IC sector with the opening of a new fab in Hefei specializing in manufacturing car chips, according to industry sources in China.

Nexchip is currently China's leading contract chipmaker for display driver ICs (DDI), and it has expanded its offering to include automotive DDIs and other devices. Nexchip has targeted automotive chip foundry, following in the footsteps of rival Chinese peer CanSemi Technology, the sources indicated.

Having achieved mass production in the 150-90nm process, Nexchip is in the risk-taking phase of mass producing 55nm chips, the sources said. The foundry's automotive chips have also passed the reliability test of customers' 12.8-inch automotive display and are increasingly being released into the OEM market. Customer product verification now includes automotive power chips.

Nexchip has only been in business for eight years, but in that time it has quickly risen through the ranks of China's foundry sector to become the premier DDI foundry, the sources noted. Nexchip surpassed HeJian Technology to rank tenth among global wafer foundries in the second quarter of 2023.

HeJian, owned by Taiwan's United Microelectronics (UMC), has been the "time-honored brand" specializing in driver IC foundries for many years.

Nexchip was founded in Hefei in 2015 by Michael Tsai, an industry veteran of both Powerchip Semiconductor and the Taiwanese semiconductor sector. It is the first 12-inch wafer foundry in Chinese Anhui province and Hefei's first semiconductor project, with tens of billions of Chinese yuan invested.

Tsai previously said that Nexchip was founded on the advantages of the local industrial supply chain, driven by BOE Technology, to become the world's leading DDI chip foundry by 2022, which it has achieved.

During the recent commemoration of the third phase of Nexchip's 12-inch fab expansion project, the foundry also signed strategic agreements with customers including BOE Varitronix, Himax Technologies, SmartSens Technology, and Autochips, according to industry sources in China.