Serving as a cornerstone for invested companies; domestic alternatives are opportunities not goals
By Zhang Yiqun / Jiwei
Some innovation technologies and nearly 30 pieces of chip products were shown and more than 10 companies participated in Joint Product Launch Conference and Signing Ceremony of Xiamen(Haicang) IC Corporations on June 30, 2020.
This is the first time when the achievements were shown on the public after integrated circuit (IC) industry was selected as the pillar industry in Haicang, Xiamen since 2016. The signing of projects and the commercialization of products are the sign of the new stage of Haicang IC industry.
As professional investment team and local industrial capital, Xmsig has played an important role in Haicang IC industry. All companies attended Product Launch Conference were invested by Xiamen Semiconductor Investment Group Co., Ltd.(Xmsig). During the conference, Wang Huilian, Director and General Manager of Xmsig, was interviewed by Jiwei, introducing projects shown and shared his views on IC industry.
Wang Huilian, Director and General Manager of Xiamen Semiconductor Investment Group Co., Ltd.
Xmsig, as an industrial investment institute, will provide ongoing support and value-added services for invested companies while serving as a cornerstone for their growth, Wang said. When China’s IC industry faces external pressure, domestic alternatives are temporary opportunities, not goals. We shall try our best, adhere to open development and nurture industrial and technological ecology as well as environment for industrial growth.
Serving as a cornerstone for the growth of invested companies
11 corporation principals from Sky Semiconductor, SiPTORY, Codefair Semiconductor, pai-ic, SoC, linkedsemi, hynetek, Chuhang Tech, yysensor, KrySto Semiconductor and Asgard made introduction of their company’s development, product characteristics and leading edges at the conference on June 30,2020.
Ranking from 5G, smart home appliances, special application market, telematics to low-power Bluetooth, most products shown have been on the stage of customer import and mass production, according to Jiwei.
Wang told to a reporter from Jiwei, “The companies mentioned above are flagships in the subsections of industry they devote to, they are young start-ups though. For example, yysensor specializing in infrared sensor and SiPTORY concentrating on ESD enjoy great potential. A few companies have been preparing for a listing.”
Differentiating from average corporations specializing in financial investment, Xmsig, a professional industrial investment institute, has clear positioning and logic for industrial development, Wang suggested.
As an industrial capital, Xmsig will adhere to long-term investment strategies and remain a part of invested companies after they go public. Meanwhile, Xmsig will work as a cornerstone to help invested companies develop by giving full play to the characteristics of local industrial capital, realizing regional industrial support, combining the key points of regional industrial development and offering additional value-added services including technology, entrepreneurship, capital, industrial chain (supply chain), market, policy and other supportive measures.
Wang indicated that a flood of non-industrial capital have flocked into IC industry, but there are niches left. In terms of business strategies, Xmsig still adheres to invest on certain subsections of the industry while finding investment opportunities from invested industrial chain. In addition, market is believed to be more customer-friendly; industrial layout and opportunity, such as Semiconductor Plus, should be boldly explored.
Also, the Signing Ceremony of the SiP Public Technology Platform and the Memorandum of Cooperation between Haicang District and the Institute of Microelectronics, Tsinghua University, and the Signing ceremony of Domestic Information Technology Ecological Experience and Adaptation Center were held.
Wang pointed out that the SiP Public Technology Platform can provide one-stop SiP and high-end carrier technology services for domestic companies and park enterprises. This is especially the case when it comes to all-round support in system integration scheme, packaging technology and carrier technology for small and medium-sized IC design companies and manufacturers of complete machine and system. Depending on local enterprises and industrial chains and combining Loongson regional technology and service resources, Ecological Adaptation Center improves regional innovation applications and products of ecological and operational guarantee system, and realizes the effective operation and maintenance of the whole process and life cycle, which will also benefit the industrial ecological construction of domestic CPU.
Domestic alternatives are phased opportunities
China semiconductor industry is facing serious external challenges brought by both unexpected impact of COVID-19 and continuous pressure from US-China trade war.
After ZTE, Jinhua and Huawei became the attack target of US, it has stepped up attack on the development of China's IC industry. From stopping manufacturing equipment and technology to restricting the use of EDA tools and personnel exchanges, US has also limited the development of China’s IC industry by working with their allies.
In Wang’s opinion, such restrictions are not only harmful for China, but also will have an impact on the global semiconductor industry.
First of all, this resulted in the decoupling of science from technology and industry and the separation of economy. Such a split will have a great impact on the global economy. In this context, China and the United States will reconstruct the industrial and technology chain; money and time needed will also increase greatly.
Under such situation, how should China's IC industry respond?
Wang suggested that we must try our best and adhere to the open development. Restriction or even fragmentation is an inevitable trend. China's semiconductor industry should prepare for long-term difficulties while adhering to opening-up policy.
Second, Wang said IC industry should strengthen investment on R&D. There is no shortage of funds for the development of China's IC industry. In the past few years, however, most high-tech fields/enterprises in China have developed and expanded by imitation, which are still adopting the "car light theory" to explore in no man's land. Original pre-competition technology and engineering technology are almost non-existent, and core technologies or key products urgently needed for industrial development and scarce resources in the industrial chain are not supported. It is essential to reexamine initiatives for the development of IC industry in China, value ongoing engagement in basic R&D and explore suitable development mode for our country.
“What we pursue is not a single project or technology but ecology nurturing. We should strengthen investment on R&D in IC industry, especially in comparison with that of European and American countries,” said Wang.
Third, the crisis offers us opportunities. In the long term, taking on external pressure is beneficial for China’s IC industry. In the wake of incidents of ZTE Corporation and Huawei, China’s manufacturers chose to establish their industrial and supply chain, and many opportunities are given to semiconductor start-up as well.
Wang, however, pointed out that we should have a clear head with regard to the emergency of domestic alternatives which are temporary chances instead of goals for semiconductor industry in China.
“To nurture the world-class corporations, China’s semiconductor industry will not only need to solve the most immediate problem, but also be open-minded towards globalization, be positive with industrial and technological ecology as well as development environment for entrepreneurs rather than being self-reclusive”, said Wang.
Wang stressed that we must be aware that we are still in the low and middle end of the industrial chain. To get into the first echelon, continuous efforts and support are needed. The gameplay of the first echelon is quite different from that of the second one, hence we cannot imitate the gameplay of the first echelon completely. China's IC industry should take fewer detours on the premise of avoiding strategic misjudgment, grasping the rhythm, pursuing precision, being less short-sighted, and planning the development of China's IC industry with the vision of "Chinese Dream".
Local IC industry needs determination and perseverance
Nowadays, with the favor of local government and capital resources, China’s IC industry is blossoming. In contrast with large-scale and comprehensive development strategies for IC industry pursued by some local governments, Haicang has become the eye of storm in China’s IC industry enjoying its position and voicing its views in the past 3 years, although Haicang did not take IC industry as its core industry until the end of 2016.
From the perspective of Wang, the phased achievements of Haicang IC industry should be attributed to its precise positioning at the early stage of industrial development and ongoing strong support offered by local authority to the IC industry on the basis of innovative mechanism and system.
From the perspective of industrial observation, Wang supposed that the evolution of Moore's Law lead to the skyrocketing cost of advanced process technology, which would bring two trends: one is the oligopoly pattern formed by industrial chain and ecology, and the other is to promote the development of packaging technology.
Under the pattern of oligopoly, advanced technology is not a panacea for all products, especially for the Chinese market, the characteristic process route is more practical. To solve the follow-up development of Moore's Law, the commercial values of advanced packaging industry chain (wafer level, carrier board), carrier board technology (soft/hard), SIP, TSV/TGV, etc. are gradually emerging.
Under such insight, thanks to the operation of Xiamen Semiconductor's professional team, Haicang has invested and laid out an industrial chain focusing on characteristic process and technology routes, focusing on the market demand of "light, thin, small, dense and multifunctional", and at the same time invested and laid out advanced packaging, carrier board, 3D integration and SIP projects from the perspective of system integration and formed differentiated advantages.
Xmsig has invested more than 20 entrepreneurial design companies, including RF PA, filter, MEMS sensor, MCU, audio algorithm, embedded master control/module, photoelectric reading and writing, intelligent manufacturing solution, which could cater to marketplace in terms of 5G, consumer products, IoT, industry and automobile. Initial layout has been completed and IC manufacturing (wafer manufacturing with special technique, advanced packaging, carrier board, flexible board) is gradually entering the right track. Profits were seen from the fourth quarter of last year and is expected to go up rapidly, which could be attributed to industrial promotion and talent clusters.
In contrast with local governments which strive for a quick return, Haicang district government has long-term vision and clear positioning, suggested Wang. With regard to achievements made on this stage, the mode and path of Haicang proved successful. A large number of enterprises chose to locate in Haicang and realized rapid market introduction in 3 years; therefore, efficiency is high when it comes to input-out ratio. Meanwhile, Haicang district government made a lot of innovations and breakthroughs and seek a path for the growth of semiconductor industry supported by local resources in terms of mechanisms, industrial development environment, business environment and development mode.
“Over the past three years, IC industry in Haicang has fulfilled the zero breakthrough, showing its great importance in China’s semiconductor industry and establishing good development foundation. We will unify thinking, deepen understanding, integrate resources and support the industry. Determination and perseverance are required for the development of local IC industry since there is no shortcut”, said Wang.