Wafer foundry advanced process runway chip chip "burn money game"


Wafer foundry advanced process runway chip chip

Li Na

[In the past, the focus of the semiconductor market has been around traditional chip microminiaturization, adding more functionality to the device, and then shrinking the device at each process node. However, in recent years, microchips at each node have become more expensive and complex. Nowadays, only a few people can afford the cost of designing chips on advanced nodes.

[In the first half of 2018, TSMC's global market share has reached 56%, that is to say, more than half of the world's semiconductors and chips are from TSMC. ]

The chip industry is highly sensitive to digital, increasingly becoming a "tightening curse" for wafer manufacturers and chip manufacturers. For giants in Pyramid, there is no exception.

Recently, supply chain news came out that TSMC giant TSMC has won the 2019 Apple A13 chip exclusive orders, coupled with previous orders from Qualcomm, Huawei, Yingweida and other manufacturers, TSMC next year in the world's professional wafer OEM market share is expected to rise to 60%. In the first half of 2018, TSMC's global market share has reached 56%, that is to say, more than half of the world's semiconductors and chips are from TSMC.

The enthusiasm for advanced process investment comes from the demand explosion in the chip market. For example, the Kirin 990 launched by Huawei next year and the 855 (8510) by Qualcomm require more advanced processes to improve the competitiveness of the market. Yao Jiayang, an analyst at Jibang Tuobang Industry Research Institute, told the first reporter that the more advanced the process, the smaller the area, the higher the performance and the lower the power consumption. Generally speaking, 10 nm to 16 nm, the power consumption will be reduced by about 20% to 30%. The smaller the number, the more advanced technology level.

But according to the data provided by the analysts, both chip manufacturers and wafer manufacturers are under greater pressure as they move toward the pyramid. The latest report from ICInsights, an international semiconductor market research institute, points out that, in addition to TSMC, average incomes per wafer at Global Foundries, Lianhua Electronics and MCI are expected to decline in 2018.

ICInsights predicts that only TSMC, Samsung and Intel will be able to invest in advanced wafer substitutes in the next five years, with intense competition, and that pricing pressures will continue until 2022.

Players withdraw from competition

In the past, the semiconductor market has focused on traditional chip microminiaturization, adding more functionality to the device, and then shrinking the device at each process node.

However, in recent years, microchips at each node have become more expensive and complex. Nowadays, only a few people can afford the cost of designing chips on advanced nodes. According to IBS, the cost of IC design alone jumped from $51.3 million for 28 nm planar devices to $297.8 million for 7 nm chips.

ICInsights says the main reason TSMC maintains a prominent position is that it almost monopolizes the market for the most advanced process nodes.

In fact, the average revenue per wafer at the world's four largest wafer substitutes peaked in 2014 at $1,149, then slowly declined to 2017. ICInsights pointed out that the advancement of manufacturing technology affected the level of revenue per wafer, with an average of $370 per wafer for 0.5-micro8-inch silicon wafers and $6050 per wafer for 12-inch wafers below 20 nm. If we look at the average revenue per square inch, the average revenue of 0.5 Mu process technology and below 20 nm process technology is $7.41, far less than the latter's $53.86.

Due to the pressure of the market, some of the wafer OEMs began to choose "stop" to review the consequences of continuous "burn money" into advanced technology.

In August this year, GLOBAL FOUNDRIES (formerly known as Grofond) officially announced the shelving of the 7Nm FinFET project, and adjusted the corresponding research and development team to support the enhanced product mix. In a source obtained by First Financial Reporter, Ge said that while cutting staff, a large number of top technicians will be deployed to work on 14/12 nm FinFET derivatives and other differentiated products.

"Customer demand for semiconductors has never been so high, and we are required to play an increasingly important role in the realization of future technological innovation." "Today, the vast majority of non-wafer factory customers want more value from each generation of technology to take full advantage of the huge investment required to design each technology node," said TomCaulfield, Gexin's chief executive. Essentially, these nodes are transitioning to design platforms that serve multiple application domains, thus providing a longer lifetime for each node. The industry dynamics have led to fewer and fewer wafer-less customers reaching the outer limits of Moore's law. We are reorganizing our resources to shift the focus of our business, doubling our investment in differentiated technologies across the product portfolio, and targeting our customers in a growing market segment.

Not long ago, there was news that Intel would split its technology and manufacturing operations into three distinct sectors, which was interpreted as the result of a 10-nm process delay in mass production.

In any case, the withdrawal from the advanced process arms race by Unicom and the lattice core, together with Intel's 10-nano-process volume-to-product schedule being postponed to the end of 2019, indicate that technological advances in advanced processes are already facing bottlenecks.

Competition in Pyramid

Samsung seems to be the only rival for TSMC in the advanced process of "digital game".

In recent years, Samsung has repeatedly gained a leading edge over TSMC in advanced manufacturing processes, with 14/16nm FinFET and 10nm processes all coming into operation ahead of TSMC. On the same day as the TSMC analysts'meeting, Samsung announced the start of production using EUV's 7Nm LPP process, which means a lot. .

In response to Samsung's move, TSMC said it had 100 7-nm streaming customers, with the majority of high-speed computing chips in the AI sector and, more importantly, the second-generation EUV 7-nm will contribute $1 billion in revenue in 2019.

One of the customers is Huawei, which did not respond to news that the 990 is currently using a 7-nm Plus EUV process design from TSMC and is expected to officially film in the first quarter of 2009, at least $30 million a time.

In Qualcomm's 4G/5G summit, HUAWEI is also the most talked about competitor. In order to "counter" opponents, Qualcomm is speeding up the shipping rhythm of chip modules. A Qualcomm worker at the scene told reporters that Qualcomm is now covering more chipsets with AI capabilities, including a 50% boost in AI performance for the Mirage 675.

In the past, Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm have worked closely together, but analysts say that Qualcomm's latest top mobile chip, Miaolong 8150, is likely to be manufactured by TSMC because of the delays in Samsung's 7Nm technology, but that's when Samsung's second-generation EUV-based 7Nm chips were mass-produced.

"The average income per wafer in a pure wafer substitution plant largely depends on the minimum characteristic size of the process technology." ICinsights'latest statistics show that in 2018, the difference between the average revenue of 0.5 micron/200 mm wafers ($370) and that of less than 20 nm/300 mm wafers ($6,050) exceeded 16 times.

It is precisely because TSMC's technology products smaller than 45 nm account for the majority of its revenue, which makes the company's wafer revenue between 2013 and 2018 to maintain an average compound annual growth rate of 2%. But the average compound annual growth rate of Global Foundries, UMC and MCI declined by 2% during the cycle. This is why Samsung is investing in advanced technology crazily.

But for most gamers in this field, it's not that the mature process market has no opportunity.

"Reducing the investment burden in cutting-edge technologies will enable the lattice core to invest more specifically in technologies that are really important to most chip designers in fast-growing markets such as the Internet of Things, IoT, 5G industries, and automobiles," says Samuel Wang, Gartner's vice president of research and development. "Although the most advanced technologies tend to dominate Most hot headline locations, but few customers can afford the cost and cost of achieving 7 nm and higher precision. The technology of 14nm and above will continue to be an important demand and driving factor for the chip substitution industry for many years to come. These areas will have great room for innovation and help boost the next wave of technological development.

Yao Jiayang believes that more manufacturers should focus on providing truly differentiated products for customers in high-growth markets, such as autopilot, the Internet of Things, and strong global demand for new areas such as the transition to 5G.


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