Weekly news roundup: Rising exports indicate China's semiconductor overcapacity

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

These are the most-read DIGITIMES Asia stories in the week of June 10 – June 14.

China reports growing exports in semiconductors, implying overcapacity

China's customs data showed that the country's semiconductor exports grew rapidly in the first five months of 2024 as domestic competition in mature nodes heated up. China exported 113.94 billion units of ICs from January to May, up 10.5% year over year. The total export value increased substantially by 21.2% to US$62.613 billion. The average IC export value rose from US$50.13 to US$54.97.

Huawei HarmonyOS outperforms Apple iOS in China in 1Q24

In the first quarter of 2024, Huawei's HarmonyOS surpassed Apple's iOS market share for the first time in China. HarmonyOS has become the country's second-largest handset operating system, falling only behind Android. Huawei is expected to release the HarmonyOS Next system at the Huawei Developer Conference 2024 on June 21. The tech giant will likely also launch its Pangu Large Model 5.0. Industry sources said Alipay, China's most important payment software tool, has already launched a new HarmonyOS beta version.

India reportedly seeks to limit Chinese participation in Indian subsidiaries, woos Taiwanese investments

The Indian government was said to keep restricting investment from China. The Economic Times reported that executives of India-based electronics and automobile companies said the government might approve joint ventures with Chinese partners only if the Indian side holds a majority stake. These Chinese companies are also cautious about technology sharing without clarity on their equity participation. They are hesitant to share technology even under a licensing agreement unless there is a roadmap for them to have equity participation in the JV.

UAE Minister says US concerns over chip supplies to China valid

Omar Al Olama, the United Arab Emirates' minister for artificial intelligence and digital economy, said that US concerns about sensitive chip technology transferred from the Middle East to China are well-founded and that the UAE has proven to be a strategic partner with America. The US has curbed chip exports to the Middle East because it is worried that Chinese companies could access the technology through data centers in the region.

MKS Instruments expands to Malaysia with new Penang plant, supporting chip production

US-based MKS Instruments said it planned to build a manufacturing plant in Penang, Malaysia, in early 2025 to support wafer fabrication equipment production. The company offers instruments, subsystems, and process control systems to customers in semiconductor manufacturing, packaging, electronics, and specialty industrial applications. Its customers include TSMC, Samsung Electronics, and STMicroelectronics. MKS CEO John Lee said the new Penang site would boast proximity to customers and suppliers, well-developed infrastructure, and an established semiconductor ecosystem.

Chipmakers brace for TSMC price increases

Industry sources said TSMC sub-7nm fab utilization rates have reached full since June and rebounded above 80% at 7/6nm. The foundry's entire 12-inch fab utilization rates have also surpassed 90%, prompting it to consider a price raise. Sources said the situation concerned IC design companies, which are barely recovering and find it difficult to pass on growing costs to customers. Only Nvidia, Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, and other large companies can increase their chip prices to offset rising costs.

China-based National Silicon Industry to double wafer production capacity to foster self-reliant chip ecosystem

China's top wafer manufacturer, National Silicon Industry, announced a plan to invest CNY13.2 billion (approximately US$1.82 billion) to double its production capacity of 300mm silicon wafers for integrated circuits. The company's monthly capacity will be increased from 600,000 wafers to 1.2 million wafers. The investment includes the Taiyuan and Shanghai projects. The CNY9.1 billion Taiyuan project has an epitaxy capacity of 600,000 wafers per month and a cutting, grinding, and polishing capacity of 200,000. The CNY4.1 billion Shanghai project has a monthly cutting, grinding, and polishing capacity of 400,000 wafers.