When it comes to semiconductor industry, domestic substitution is an inextricable topic.
In 1965, Gordon Moore proposed Moore's Law, which provides accurate predictions for the semiconductor industry, and international chip giants have developed it
But is that really the case? If the advanced technology of domestic components has not reached the international level, why should we blame the problem that the domestic components have not reached the international level? Perhaps we can find the answer in the growth of parity electronics, a start-up in the optoelectronic detection industry.
Still rely heavily on imported industrial chips
According to data Gartner by market research institutions, the global industrial chip market sold $48.56 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $70.5 billion in 2022, with a compound growth rate of about 13 percent in 2019-2022. The annual output value of American industrial chips reached 22.1 billion US dollars in 2019, accounting for 45.5% of the global industrial chip output value.Japan followed closely 15.8% of the world's total, while mainland China's industrial chip sales in 2019 amounted to 2 billion 261 million US dollars, accounting for only 7%.
As a big industrial country, our industrial chip production can not match it. At present, we still need a large number of imported foreign chips to meet the demand.
Wu Hanming, academician of the Chinese Academy of engineering, also said in his speech at the forum of academicians of the new generation of information and communication industry in 2020, that in fact, advanced processes such as 5nm and 12NM in the chip industry only occupy 12% of the global market, while nodes above 20nm occupy 82% of the global market share. At present, a large number of industrial control chips in China only need 40nm and 55nm But it still needs a lot of imports.
The industrial chip mentioned by Professor Wu Hanming covers medical imaging equipment, scientific research instruments, lidar and other aspects. With the rise of the Internet of things, the demand is particularly strong in recent years.
One of the members of the industry is called electronics, which is dedicated to designing optoelectronic detection chips. Lei Feng learned that the ultra-high precision ToF PET( measurement of flight time) signal processing digital-analog hybrid (ASIC) chips and components designed by Yuyu Electronics are mainly planned to replace imported ASIC in the field of domestic substitution。
The principle of ToF technology is to use infrared light source to emit high frequency light pulses to the object, and then to receive the light pulses reflected back from the object. The distance between the measured object and the camera is calculated by the flight time of the detected light pulse.
TOF technology was first used in 3D depth camera to measure the distance between lens and object. It has been widely used in mobile face recognition and car lidar, and has a broad market. TOF technology can be divided into two types: dtof directly measuring the time of flight and itof measuring the time of flight by measuring phase offset. The latter is difficult to integrate, and its accuracy will continue to decrease with the increase of distance. Therefore, dtof technology is often used in the case of higher requirements for distance and accuracy.
Yu said electronics is the market prospect of dToF, focusing on the key technology to support the dToF SPAD( single photon avalanche photodiode) design, and has been in the leading position.
Domestic chips can also reach the international first-class level
So, in terms of dtof sensor chip, what is the design level in China?
Yu said electronics founder Shen Wei told Lei Feng,SPAD started late in China, foreign countries began to study SPAD in the 1990s, and SPAD technology began to realize large-scale commercial landing 4-5 years ago, at the same time, domestic SPAD research began 4-5 years ago.At present, the difficulty of large-scale application of SPAD mainly lies in the miniaturization of sensing pixels, and various parameters need to be optimized for different applications. However, Yuyu electronics, a start-up company founded in 2017, has its own independently designed pixels, which has achieved good performance in precision and optical detection efficiency (PDE).
In June this year, parity electronics completed the design of the industry's first 5-micron pixel precision SPAD and passed the test.Shen Wei said that the 5 micron here refers to the spacing of pixels, which can also be understood as the size of pixels. The higher the accuracy, the clearer the image.Generally speaking, the accuracy of dtof measuring distance needs to reach 10 μ M. for example, the device accuracy on iPad Pro is about 10 μ M. This means that the design of the 5-micron SPAD of parity electronics is at the leading level in the industry.
In other aspects, parity's SIPM signal processing chip ASIC has also been fabricated, and its performance has reached the international first-class standard. This means that the use of domestic chips can also make the product show better performance.
Difficulties in promoting mature industrial ASIC
Since the process in the field of industrial chip has been developed and matured in China, why is there such a large space for domestic substitution?
Taking the photoelectron detection direction in industrial chips as an example, as a member of the design field of photoelectron detection chip, Shen Wei, the founder of parity electronics, interviewed Lei Feng net (official account: Lei Feng net), and said that the sensor industry, including SPAD, has not yet developed to the need of relying on the technological needs of Moore's law, so we are designing SPAD In the process, we will not encounter the problem of lack of key equipment of EUV lithography machine.
The current problem is that the design of industrial chips is difficult, and the overall shipment can not be compared with consumer chips, so it is often ignored in the upsurge of chip localization.
In the process of creating parity electrons, Shen Wei thinks that the biggest difficulty is that the single photon detection technology is still in the early stage of application, and it will take some time before it is widely accepted by the industry. Because of this, in the process of docking with downstream customers, it takes a lot of time and energy to establish relationships, popularize relevant technologies and knowledge, and discuss specific process details with process manufacturers.
Shen Wei believes that both the equipment and the design itself are a process of two-way improvement. Only by fully trusting each other can we have more opportunities for trial and error, thus driving the progress of the entire industrial chain. I also hope that the industry and the investment community can pay more attention to the industrial chip.
Summary of Lei Feng
The domestic substitution of semiconductor industry does not simply depend on whether it can have advanced process and top-notch equipment. The difficulty of domestic substitution of international leading domestic core components may be more difficult in the integration and promotion of the industrial chain. It is acknowledged that the shipment of industrial sensor chips can not reach the level of consumer chips, but also recognize the current situation. There is a huge space for domestic replacement of industrial chips and the prospect is still good.
It is also necessary for more companies like parity electronics to become world-class domestic companies in the field of optoelectronic detection, especially medical imaging PET-CT equipment chip, and pay attention to the domestic substitution of industrial ASIC.