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Semiconductor in China: Is 3rd Time a Charm?
date:2015-03-14 22:57from:SEMI author:admin cl:
China has recently announced extremely ambitious plans for becoming more self-sufficient in semiconductors. Today China is about 1/3 of the worldwide IC market but about 90% of that is imported. Think of something like the iPhone assembled in Shenzen with chips from TSMC, Samsung, Hynix, Toshiba/Sandisk , Micron and more (Taiwan, Korea, Japan and US).

China is already a growing market for IC equipment. This year it will be $5B, 12% of the world market with another $6B for materials, 13% of the world market.

China has actually been involved with semiconductor for a long time, staring with work done in 1964 not long after the original invention of the IC. They have had several attempts to build domestic manufacturing starting in the 1970s importing production lines from Japan. In that era, when a fab was cheap, there were actually many lines established in China, but mostly for R&D and not commercial. In the late 1980s they created the China Electronics Corporation by the then Ministry of Electronics Industry. They had a joint project with Lucent based on a Lucent process, training and design, although it was not truly successful. Then a joint-venture with NEC in 1997 with a 200mm fab. In that era, SEMI predicted 20 fabs in China but that never materialized. In 2000 SMIC was created and was more successful. There is more capacity in China now, 8% of the world total, but about 2/3 of it is overseas companies operating fabs there (Intel, Samsung, Hynix).

In June 2014 China announced a national project to develop a truly domestic IC industry covering IC design, IC manufacturing, advanced packaging and even semiconductor equipment and materials. There are plans to invest $21B with a more market-based structure, and as much as $100B including local funds from Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Hefei.

To start with now the focus is on 32/28nm and medium to high-end assembly and test. They also plan to develop 200mm 45nm and 65nm equipment. From now through 2020 they plan 20% annual growth which, if achieved, will grow the market to $143B which is 3.5X 2013 levels. The roadmap for 14/16nm is in that timeframe.

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