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TSMC and SMIC will be cut off from Huawei? Countermeasures are on the way

via:芯智讯     time:2020/5/16 20:25:08     readed:119

On the evening of May 15, the Department of Commerce's Bureau of industry and security (BIS) announced a "plan to protect the national security of the United States" on Friday, local time, that is, "to restrict Huawei's ability to design and manufacture semiconductors overseas using U.S. technology and software", so as to prevent Huawei from bypassing U.S. export controls.

On May 15, 2019, the U.S. listed Huawei and its more than 70 affiliated companies in the "entity list" of export control, forbidding U.S. enterprises to export any technology and products to China without obtaining a license.

Until now, it is exactly the first anniversary of US sanctions against Huawei. The US sanctions against Huawei in the past year have not destroyed Huawei. On the contrary, Huawei's businesses have still withstood the pressure and maintained growth.

According to Huawei's 2019 annual report, the annual revenue is 858.8 billion yuan, up 19.1% year on year, and the net profit is 62.7 billion yuan, up 5.6% year on year. Smartphone shipments reached 240 million units, an increase of more than 16% year on year. By the end of 2019, there are more than 85000 valid authorized patents in the world. In addition, according to iplytics, Huawei has the largest number of 5g standard patent families in the world, reaching 3147.

Even affected by the epidemic in the first quarter, Huawei achieved sales revenue of 182.2 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2020, with a year-on-year growth of 1.4%.

In the process, the United States is still increasing its pressure on Huawei. Up to now, 114 Huawei's overseas related companies have been listed in the "entity list".

Perhaps it felt that the previous measures to "kill" Huawei did not achieve the expected effect. On the first anniversary of the US listing Huawei as an entity, the US added another code, hoping to implement export controls through stricter standards, so as to limit Huawei.

In the past year, Huawei has continued to design semiconductor chips by using US software and technology, and to make chips through "overseas foundry using US equipment", in violation of the purpose of entity list to ensure US national security and foreign policy, BIS said.

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, also said: "although the US Department of Commerce listed Huawei on the" entity list "last year, Huawei and its foreign affiliates also increased their efforts to avoid the restrictions based on the protection of US national security implemented by the us through localization. This approach to localization still relies on US technology. This is not the behavior of responsible global enterprises. We must modify the rules used by Huawei and Hisilicon semiconductor to prevent the malicious use of US technology in activities against the interests of US national security and foreign policy. "

To this end, BIS is revising its long-term implementation of the measurement standards and entity list of foreign-made direct products, which will limit Huawei's purchase of semiconductor products based on certain software and technology in the United States by narrow and strategic rules.

Specific restrictions

Specifically, this targeted rule change will enable the following foreign produced products to comply with the export administration regulations (ear):

To facilitate direct reference of other official account to the same content, we do photo processing here.

As we all know, the original U.S. export control over Huawei was mainly to restrict U.S. manufacturers from providing products and services based on U.S. technology to China, and at the same time to restrict manufacturers outside the U.S. from providing products and services containing more than 25% of the technology from the United States to China.

Now, from the above new regulations, we can see that no matter what 25% of the standards in the United States are derived from American technology, the semiconductor designed or produced by Huawei and its affiliated companies will be limited as long as it uses the software and technology on the commercial control list of the United States to produce direct products. At the same time, Huawei and its affiliates will be restricted even if they use direct products produced by some US semiconductor equipment outside the US.

Is Huawei really cool when the U.S. dies?

This is a big deal! The United States really wants to kill Huawei!

Yang Jian, chief analyst of smart core research institute, pointed out that the new regulation in the United States is to prohibit Huawei from using American software to design chips, and also prohibit Huawei from using American semiconductor equipment to produce chips through chip generation factories outside the United States. If one of these two ends is blocked, Huawei's chips may be locked.

First of all, although Huawei has basically realized the replacement of American chips in base station and terminal products by using self-developed chips and non American chips, the most critical chip design, especially the design of high-end chips, still relies on American EDA software.

At present, the global EDA software supply is mainly composed of three international giants, Synopsys, cadence and mentor graphic, which account for more than 60% of the global market share. Among them, Synopsys and cadence, which have the largest market share, are both American manufacturers. Although domestic EDA manufacturers have developed rapidly in recent years, there is still a huge gap between them.

Because EDA software usually has authorization for a relatively long time (for example, one year), after Huawei was listed in the entity list in the United States, Huawei can still use American EDA software to design chips in theory, as long as it is still within the authorization period, although there is no technical support from the original manufacturer.

But as time goes on, the time limit for EDA software authorization should be approaching. So we can see that on the evening of April 28, the Nikkei Asia review quoted two people familiar with the matter as saying that Huawei is working with chip manufacturer stmicronics to design mobile and automobile related chips together! Huawei's cooperation with French and Italian semiconductors is expected to enable Huawei to design its own chips using EDA software from American companies.

But now, according to the new regulations of the United States, as long as the chips designed by Huawei and its affiliated companies are directly designed with EDA software of American manufacturers, they will be restricted by the new regulations of the United States. Obviously, the road is blocked by the new regulations.

Secondly, Huawei is a fabless manufacturer. Even if its chips do not use any American software and technology, they still need to be produced by TSMC, SMIC and other chip manufacturers. If these chip generation factories use the semiconductor equipment of the United States to produce Huawei's chips, they will also be restricted by the United States. That is to say, if these chip generation factories don't want to get into trouble, they can't use American semiconductor equipment to produce chips for Huawei.

It's going to be fatal again! At present, in semiconductor manufacturing, it is difficult to avoid the semiconductor equipment in the United States.

According to the statistics of VLSI research, in 2018, the global sales volume of semiconductor equipment systems and services reached US $81.1 billion. Among the top five equipment manufacturers, the United States accounted for two. Among them, American application materials company ranked first with 17.72% market share, and American pan forest semiconductor ranked fourth with 13.4% market share. The two together account for 31.12% of the global market share.

It can be said that both TSMC and SMIC have largely used the equipment of these two US semiconductor equipment manufacturers. In addition, ASML, the second largest photolithography company, produces the core component of its photolithography machine, light source, which is also from the United States.

It can be said that Huawei chips can't avoid American devices at the manufacturing end. This time, the United States is really going to kill Huawei!

Yang Jian, chief analyst of smart core research institute, also contacted TSMC insiders in the early morning of May 16 to ask whether the new rules of bis in the United States would restrict TSMC's subsequent cooperation with Huawei, and the other side gave a definite reply.

The other side said, "I only saw the news in the evening. In my opinion, there are two main rules in this new regulation: the first is to prohibit Huawei from using American software for design. The second is to restrict the use of semiconductor equipment made in the United States for Huawei's chip production by OEM factories outside the United States. (originally, a license is needed, but it is almost impossible to obtain it.). Literally, there's no room left. But there is no time to consult the legal person. "

In addition to TSMC, the new US regulations may also limit the cooperation between SMIC and Huawei.

"Unless SMIC does not use US equipment to produce chips for Huawei, it can avoid us new regulations. At present, some domestic substitutes have been made for etching machine, PVD, CVD, cleaning machine, oxidation / annealing equipment, etc., but it is unrealistic to completely avoid the semiconductor equipment in the United States. " Another Fab insider told smart core. This also means that if SMIC continues to use US equipment to manufacture chips for Huawei, it may also be subject to US sanctions.

That is to say, the chips developed by Huawei have been blocked by the United States in design and production! This is to discard Huawei's self-developed chip.

So is it possible for Huawei to break through the blockade of new US regulations?

Yang Jian, chief analyst of smart core research institute, thinks that one way to avoid it is that Huawei directly chooses chips from other domestic or non US foreign manufacturers to replace self-developed chips. At least in terms of the letter of the new rules, it seems feasible. And before that, Huawei not only used self-developed chips, but also a large number of domestic and non-U.S. chips such as Japan and South Korea chips to replace the U.S. chips. However, fundamentally speaking, chips from other domestic or non-U.S. manufacturers are still inseparable from the EDA software and semiconductor equipment in the United States. Whether it is feasible to bypass the new regulations in the United States by doing so is still the right of interpretation of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

For Huawei, this time I'm afraid it's really going to be a "life and death" moment. But we don't have to be too pessimistic, because there is still a turning point.

The turning point is still there, and countermeasures are on the way

At present, the new regulations of the U.S. Department of Commerce for Huawei have not been formally implemented, and in fact, after the formal implementation of the new regulations, the U.S. has also left a buffer period of up to 120 days.

According to the new rules, the U.S. Department of Commerce said, "in order to prevent direct adverse economic impact on foreign manufacturers using U Move (at home) and not be bound by these new licensing requirements. "

That is to say, even after the formal implementation of the new regulations for Huawei in the United States, wafer manufacturers such as TSMC and SMIC have started production projects according to Huawei's design specifications. As long as these chips are delivered to Huawei within 120 days after the new regulations come into effect, they do not need to apply for a license from the United States. This also means that Huawei still has a buffer period of 120 days even if the new US regulations are officially implemented. Then Huawei can use this 120 day time to speed up the stock up, in order to be able to survive for a long time after 120 days.

And the sudden U.S. attack on Huawei should also be Trump's chips to gain an advantage in the subsequent trade negotiations with China and the dispute over the new crown epidemic. Perhaps the 120 day buffer time is just to negotiate with the Chinese government about the conditions and force China to make concessions.

In any case, I believe that the country will not ignore the bullying of Huawei by the United States, let alone let the United States lead the way. On the evening of May 15, the Global Times published an editorial article, "editorial: to fight back against the US side is not soft, but to fight a long war.".

The article points out that according to the Global Times:

If the U.S. further "necks" Huawei and prevents TSMC from supplying chips to China, China will fight back strongly, including including including relevant U.S. enterprises in the "list of unreliable entities", and legally punish Qualcomm, CiscoAppleWait for US companies to carry out restrictions or investigations, suspend the purchase of Boeing aircraft and so on.

Source: Global Times

Obviously, according to the information disclosed by the global times, China has prepared very strong counter measures to deal with the further "neck sticking" of the US against Huawei.

There is no permanent enemy between countries, only permanent interests. Only cooperation between China and the United States can achieve win-win results, and we believe that Huawei's affairs can be properly resolved in the end.

There is a way, mountains and rivers, doubt no way, another village! While keeping a little optimistic, we should also be aware that "domestic substitution" is not only a slogan to fight chicken blood, but also the goal that our generation of semiconductor people strive for.

Author: Xin Zhixun - Ranger sword

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