more and more chips, good and different

The Chinese, despite a well-developed infrastructure for the production of electronics and electronic components, are heavily dependent on imports. So, in 2020, the Celestial Empire brought in semiconductor elements from abroad

worth about $ 350 million

… For comparison, it can be indicated that the cost of imported oil products over the same period was about $ 175 million.

Own chips required for the production of various electronic devices are produced in the country no more than 5%… Everything would be fine, but China is now waging a trade war with the United States, which greatly affects the range of components and technologies imported into the country. But the country is gradually becoming more and more autonomous – both corporations and the state stimulate the development of the production of their own chips.

Huge plans

About a year ago

we wrote

that a very large-scale state-owned company was launched in the country to develop chips necessary for the production of electronic devices. The amount that the state is ready to invest and invest in business in this program is simply enormous – $ 1.4 trillion over 5 years.

This is how much the country is going to invest in high technologies until 2025. The funds will be provided to Chinese companies, electronics and software manufacturers, to create their own 5G technologies, smart gadgets, and develop AI products.

All of this is not a one-off infusion, but periodically allocated investments to various companies. In particular, the funds will be received by Alibaba Group, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, SenseTime Group Ltd. and a number of other high-tech companies. The main task set by the Chinese government for business is to become as less dependent on the United States as possible.

According to the goals of the Made in China program, enterprises from 31 provinces will receive investments. Finances are not only state-owned – funds are also allocated by private capital. According to Western analysts, in particular Morgan Stanley, the development of China’s infrastructure will require even more money than originally planned. Not more than a trillion, but about $ 2 trillion. In some cases, China is going to replace technologies from IBM, Oracle, EMC and other companies that it uses with its own.

In addition to infrastructure development, the country also invests in specialists. Since there were not very many of their experts in the development of processors in China a couple of years ago, the business began a “headhunt”. In particular, technologists began to be invited from other countries. Quanxin Integrated Circuit Manufacturing (QXIC) and Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (HSMC) were particularly active. They have already managed to lure over a hundred employees from TSMC, offering salaries twice as high as they received in a Taiwanese company. Also China began to hire professionals and in South Korea. Most actively China “hunts” for specialists in semiconductor lithography, etching, annealing and other similar professions.

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What about the results?

They are, and quite noticeable. True, the semiconductor chip manufacturing industry still loses to foreign counterparts, but still there are successes, and there are many of them.

For example, the Chinese company AMEC not so long ago stated on the development of our own equipment for the production of 5-nm chips. Moreover, this development is not a pilot, since, according to a company representative, “a number of world leaders in the production of 5nm chips” use the company’s industrial installations. The equipment is “sharpened” for plasma “dry” etching. During the production of chips, one layer after another is removed from the crystal with the help of plasma. In addition, the Chinese company provides equipment for processing 300 mm silicon wafers, which can be used for a wide range of industrial processes – from 65 nm to 5 nm.

HSMC is gradually expanding its 14nm processor manufacturing facility. The volume of investments in the project is $ 18.4 billion. Soon the company plans to start mastering the 7-nm technical process.

Other companies have also made progress. For example, Ziguang has developed a 512-core processor. This is a completely modern chip that is designed to work in corporate systems, made using a 7-nm process technology. The chip got its own name – H3C Engiant 800.

The number of transistors in the processor exceeds 40 billion, which makes the chip very efficient. True, it is not yet clear who will produce the processor, since this company does not have its own capacities for the production of semiconductor chips.

In addition, a joint venture between Via Technologies and the Chinese government last year released the KaiXian KX-6780A and KX-U6880A processors. The first of these processors received eight cores of the company’s own design. The processor supported SSE 4.2 and AVX instructions, virtualization and encryption. The frequency of operation is about 2.7 GHz, the chip is made using 16-nm technology.

Oppo in 2019 started developing own high-performance processors for mobile devices. The mobile device maker is currently working with chips from Qualcomm and MediaTek. A proprietary chip will greatly simplify the life of the company. If everything works out, then Oppo will become one of the largest manufacturers of smartphones with its own processors.

Another company, ingjia Microelectronics, recently completed development of a 28nm video core, codenamed Jingjia JM9. According to the company, the performance of the chip reaches the level of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1000 series graphics cards.

A few days ago became known about the latest generation Loongson chip. This is a 2.5GHz 35W chip called the 3A5000. It is designed for installation in desktops, servers, digital kiosks, etc. As for laptops, nothing is said about them. The 3A5000 is approximately 30% more efficient than its predecessor, the 3A4000.

Alibaba Cloud presented own 128-core Armv9 Yitian 710 processor. The processor is made using 5nm technology. Inside – 60 billion transistors, operating frequency – 3.2 GHz. In addition, it is worth mentioning an eight-channel DDR5 controller and 96 PCIe 5.0 lanes.

Is there some more and a 2.1 GHz quad-core KX-6640MA X86 processor with overclocking capability up to 2.6 GHz.

What’s next?

As far as can be understood, China, although not very quickly, is relatively confident in developing its semiconductor industry. Namely – that part of it that is directly related to the development and production of graphics chips and processors. If successes begin to develop incrementally, then the Celestial Empire will significantly reduce its dependence on the United States and other countries.

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