"This might be one of the most advanced chips in the world," an official from the Belgium-based Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (Imec) reportedly informed then-Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as he inspected a wafer during his 2018 visit to the semiconductor research institute. Three years before the visit, in June 2015, both Li and then-Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel partook in a signing ceremony that saw Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), Huawei, Imec and Qualcomm co-investing to bring SMIC's 14nm process into volume production by 2020.
During the reorganization of global supply chains, opportunities are being created for countries that are semiconductor markets in which system manufacturers are based. Semiconductors, as the most critical component and device in systems, have become the subject of import replacement efforts that countries with system manufacturing capabilities are eager to undertake.
The Chinese state-owned media Global Times reported recently, citing sources, that the Chinese tax authorities have conducted audits of Foxconn Group in Guangdong and Jiangsu, among other regions, while the natural resources department has initiated investigations into Foxconn's land use in Henan and Hubei. From the perspective of the industrial supply chain, in the short term, this event is unlikely to have a direct impact on Foxconn's business. However, for many foreign enterprises with operations in China, including Foxconn's future plans, it could potentially have long-term and profound effects.
The light generated by synchrotron radiation is produced when charged particles are accelerated by an electric field, unlike lasers that generate coherent light using transitions between atomic energy levels. The wavelength of the light produced by synchrotron radiation can be controlled and designed, ranging from far-infrared to hard X-ray, approximately from tens of micrometers to 0.01 nanometers. This range is sufficient to meet the wavelength requirements for silicon-based semiconductor processes.
Bipartisan efforts in the US Congress are trying to push the Biden Administration to take action in restricting US individuals or companies from exporting RISC-V technologies to China. US entities will be required to obtain export permits from the Department of Commerce (DoC) before collaborating with Chinese entities on RISC-V technology projects, according to sources. This will be the first time the United States imposes export control on open-source software in the name of "national security."
On October 9, the South Korean presidential office issued a statement stating that it had received notice from the United States that Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix's China-based factories are designated as "verified end users" (VEU). As a result, they will not require additional approval processes for importing US chip equipment. Following the news, it was reported that TSMC has also received a similar one-year extension. Nevertheless, in the future, the growth of semiconductor production capacity in China is no longer dominated by foreign investments, but primarily driven by that of China.
Huawei's success in having its self-developed SoC produced with 7nm technology by SMIC, China's largest wafer foundry service provider, stunned the world. Since Huawei is unable to access EDA tools from US companies, how did they design the new chip? Are made-in-China EDA tools any good?
AMD CEO Lisa Su recently suggested that an "economic moat" has yet to form in the AI sector, hinting that Nvidia's leading position is far from secure and that AMD will have a spot in the AI competition over the next decade. Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott also stated that while Nvidia remains the leading company in the GPU sector, AMD's ambitions should not be underestimated.
Following the Taiwanese government's decision in late 2022 to procure five types of small and medium-size commercial-grade military reconnaissance drones from civilian manufacturers under the auspices of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the contractors involved have declared success to have their prototypes delivered and passed military trials.
A recent report issued by SEMI forecast that the expenditure of global wafer foundry fabs is to decline 15% from the US$99.5 billion historical record in 2022 to US$84 billion in 2023. In 2024, a recovery of 15% is expected, and the total amount is expected to rebound to US$97 billion.
Since mid-2022, political and economic factors have caused a slump in global investments, even in once-promising emerging markets. The African tech sector, despite being less affected than in other regions, nevertheless saw a decrease in activity as relatively stable and well-funded companies have tightened their belts, laid off employees, underwent operational transitions or even shut down operations in its entirety.
After Huawei's Mate 60 Pro, featuring the 7nm Kirin 9000S processor produced by SMIC, caused a stir, Dr. Burn-Jeng Lin, dean of the College of Semiconductor Research under Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University, advocated for "chip peace" during a seminar held at Harvard University in mid-September. Lin argued that the global economy would pay a steep price for the ongoing chip war, given that US export controls have inadvertently stimulated China's drive for technological self-reliance, as exemplified by Huawei's latest smartphone release.
With the iPhone 15 series officially going on sale last week, the industry is closely watching its sales performance. Sources familiar with the smartphone chip industry said that if the series could keep up the momentum, it would signal a rebound in consumer spending, meaning that demand for Android phones before the 2024 Lunar New Year could also pick up.
South Korea's competitiveness in the IC design industry is relatively low, trailing behind that of the United States, Taiwan, and even mainland China. Since 2023, most industry players have been incurring losses, and even profitable companies have not performed as well as before, causing great concern in the South Korean industry. This is attributed to three major reasons: insufficient domestic talent, a small market, and inadequate government support.