The eve of the big change: the global chip industry will be rearranged

Since Sony launched a small and cheap transistor radio in 1955, the bulky tube radio has withdrawn from the stage of history. Since then, radio has become a household appliance. With the popularity of radio, Japan’s transistor industry has started rapidly.

When an era ends, an era will rise. After Apple 2, IBM defined the personal computer, drove the development of Intel’s CPU, and started the Internet revolution, which made the chip industry in the United States take off rapidly. In another traditional field of the automobile manufacturing industry, with the more and more extensive application of automated production and automotive electronics, it has driven the development of automotive chips, which started in Europe.

With the passage of time, as the basic core components of the information age, the importance of chips is getting higher and higher. In the era of global division of labor and smooth industrial chain, although the chip is important, we cannot feel its lack. With the global chip supply crisis, most countries in the world have felt the irreplaceability of the chip industry.

Especially since the Huawei incident, we are filled with righteous indignation whenever we talk about the US ban on Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies. Many people believe that China threatens the dominance of the United States in the field of information industry, and it cannot beat China in fair competition. Therefore, the United States uses various combinations of punches, and even uses some indiscriminate tricks.

This is not a special case of the United States toward China. In the last century, the so-called allies, such as Japan, Europe, Japan and South Korea, were also co-opted and suppressed. Under this circumstance, mainstream industrial countries including the United States, Japan, Europe and China have all strengthened their own chip industry construction.

This is from the macro perspective of the global chip industry background. From the micro perspective, the strategic combination of Intel and Microsoft has firmly controlled the computer industry for many years, which is conducive to the development of the industry in accordance with the rhythm and direction of the United States. The comfortable environment puts Intel and Microsoft in a state of “lazy”, and even Moore’s Law becomes no longer applicable in such a lack of progress.

No ambitious enterprise can commit itself to this state for too long. Any behavior or institution that hinders the progress of mankind will go to the opposite direction of promoting the progress of human science and technology under the impact of the latecomers.

Currently, although the background is a shortage, the chip industry is in full swing. Through the recent two or three events, we may be able to see the clues of the big change in the chip. And after the night before, there must be a bright future for the re-distribution of the global chip industry and the explosive development.

A few things worth noting recently

the first thing:

In the early morning of October 19, Apple’s second new product launch conference in autumn arrived as scheduled. A new generation of MacBook Pro equipped with M1Pro or M1Max chip is officially unveiled.

In addition to the controversial “Liu Haiping”, what is more eye-catching is the heart of the new MacBook Pro – the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These two chips are the continuation of Apple’s first self-developed computer chip M1 last year. The two chips use the same ARM architecture and TSMC 5nm process as the previous generation, but the performance has been greatly improved.

Specifically, the M1Pro is equipped with a 10-core CPU with up to eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores, and a graphics processor with up to 16 cores. The CPU speed of M1Pro is increased by up to 70%, and the speed of the graphics processor is increased by up to 2 times. The M1Pro chip also provides a memory bandwidth of up to 200GB/s, which is nearly three times the bandwidth of the M1, and can provide a high-speed unified memory of up to 32GB.

The M1Max chip is more powerful in performance. M1Max has the same 10-core CPU as M1Pro, up to 32 graphics processor cores and a 16-core neural network engine, and the processing speed can be up to 4 times higher than M1. The M1Max also has a memory bandwidth of up to 400GB/s, twice that of the M1Pro, nearly six times that of the M1, and a high-speed unified memory of up to 64GB.

These two chips using the ARM architecture are part of Apple’s plan to replace Intel chips with self-developed chips, and they are also the “strongest computer chips” that Apple has launched so far.

The most embarrassing thing about the launch of these two chips is Intel. And that’s precisely the result of Intel’s indecision, which has been slow to improve its manufacturing processes for years, and now it’s time to suffer the consequences.

Intel CEO Pat Kissinger shouted to Apple through the US media, saying that Intel does not blame Apple for abandoning it, and hopes that Apple can use Intel’s CPU again, but Intel can help Apple to do chip foundry.

Apple did not respond to this, because it has shown Intel with its actions: We cannot go back to the past. The M1 Pro and M1 Max allow Apple to leave Intel behind and launch a wider range of Mac products. With more computing cores, Apple’s chips pose a new threat to Intel’s decades-long dominance in PC processors.

From the perspective of Zijin Finance, the pattern of the western world in the chip field seems to have begun to change!

Second thing:

The above is a general-purpose chip for PC computers. The second thing is a general-purpose chip, but this chip is a supporting server.

At the Yunqi Conference in 2021, Pingtouge semiconductor, a subsidiary of Ali, handed over the latest core-making results and officially released a new generation of Yitian 710. This is a general-purpose server CPU built on a 5nm process. It integrates 60 billion transistors, 128 cores, and a main frequency of 3.2GHz.

Ali Pingtou is a blockbuster. This server chip is based on the latest Arm v9 architecture design. The main frequency of 3.2Ghz is higher than most of Intel’s general-purpose chips, and its strength even exceeds that of Kirin 9000. Etian 710 is an important step for Alibaba Cloud to promote the strategy of “one cloud with multiple cores”, and will deploy applications in the Alibaba Cloud data center.

As a high-performance server chip, Yitian 710 is designed for the high concurrency, high performance and high energy efficiency requirements of cloud scenarios. It combines the most advanced chip design technology with the unique requirements of cloud scenarios, and finally achieves a high performance and energy efficiency ratio. breakthrough. In the world, Alibaba will be the third cloud computing manufacturer with self-developed Arm server chips, which further breaks Intel’s monopoly in this market.

Some people think that the same 5nm chip has recently been born with the strongest two worlds. But in fact, the chips of Apple and Alibaba are not comparable. One is a consumer-grade SoC chip and the other is a server chip.

General-purpose server chips are recognized as one of the most difficult to design. In addition to the domestic Godson, China has always been blank in this field, and the Yitian 710 can be regarded as creating a new situation in the domestic chip industry.

However, unlike the positive comments on the M1Pro/Max chip on the Internet, there are some voices of doubt in the treatment of the Ali Yitian 710 chip.

Of course, this is also related to the earlier landing of the Apple M1 chip. The M1 chip released in November last year has undergone the market test for nearly a year and has been recognized by consumers, while the just-released Yitian 710 is still in the stage of applause. Whether it will be popular in the future needs further observation.

According to a report by Caixin, this Arm-based chip has been developed by Alibaba since 2019 and will be taped out in the middle of the year. I want to come to the end of 2021, and it is time for the melon to ripen.

The Chinese need a god-level general-purpose processor chip to boost their spirits. On the one hand, the market expects a breakthrough in self-developed chips, and on the other hand, it is worried about a repeat of the Hanxin tragedy. And Ali did not release the foundry of 710 this time, neither TSMC nor Samsung, so who is his foundry? It is unknown.

In short, when a new domestic chip comes out, you can’t question it first, but take care of it first, and when the time is ripe, everything will be settled.

Third thing:

Free trade and fair competition are the self-promotions of the United States, but judging from the Toshiba incident and the Alstom incident, this is just a “civilization coat” that “robbers” put on themselves when they plunder the world. Since the United States has hegemony, it has been implementing the principle of “America First” by means.

In the context of the global chip crisis, in order to maintain its own advantages in the semiconductor market, the United States has finally relentlessly attacked allied companies, revealing its true colors.

According to a report on September 27, at the semiconductor summit held the previous week, the United States required TSMC, Samsung and other companies to submit chip inventories, orders, sales within 45 days, that is, before November 8, on the grounds of improving the transparency of the semiconductor industry chain. Data and other trade secrets. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce directly threatened that if major manufacturers do not cooperate with submitting data, then the U.S. has other options, and I hope we don’t go that far.

You must know that once important information falls into the hands of the United States, the future development of TSMC, Samsung and other companies will be hit hard. To this end, the South Korean government did not hesitate to take risks for Samsung chips, saying that it would not easily hand over important materials.

South Korea is struggling to the death, and it has more backbone than the authorities in Taiwan, China. In the face of the U.S. request to hand over TSMC, the Taiwan authorities not only obeyed orders, but also asked TSMC to hand over its trade secrets as soon as possible in order to curry favor with the U.S. Their words and deeds are really disgusting.

Fortunately, TSMC has already recognized how unreliable the United States is, and has learned a painful lesson. Now, in the face of the US government and the Taiwan authorities’ hard and soft measures, it has withstood layers of pressure, straightened its back and said “no” to the United States, and also made it clear. “Never disclose sensitive information”.

Americans believe in the principle of strength, and believe that it is natural for the strong to obtain more benefits.

So what do Americans want to do when they ask Samsung and TSMC to hand over sales data and order information? Is it possible that when China makes concessions in trade negotiations, they create another card, such as banning a company from selling chips Sanctions in the form of new bargaining chips?

All this is unknown! But one thing is certain, the United States not only seizes chips, but also creates chips in order to negotiate.

ARM architecture gives new players hope

In fact, before the United States stirred up the chip industry and launched criticism, the United States has always been the country that has benefited the most from the chip industry, while China has always been a major importer of chips.

According to the statistics of the Global Chip Association, China, as the country with the largest number of chip imports in the world, accounts for 80% of the global chip import share every year. As the number one country in chip export, the United States occupies 50% of the market share.

It is under this premise that the US stirring up the chip industry is actually an act of “injuring the enemy by one thousand and self-destructing eight hundred”. The US cut off the supply of Chinese chips, which has brought many chain reactions to itself.

Years ago, we kept shouting that the import amount of chips has exceeded that of oil, and a large amount of foreign exchange reserves are consumed every year. However, because the chips in the United States are stable and the price is suitable, developing chips in China has become a thankless thing.

And now the public voice has changed, no matter how much we pay, we must achieve breakthroughs in the field of chips. Americans are stuck in our necks, and we must use our whole country to make chips an autonomous and controllable industry like high-speed rail.

To say that I feel the same way, it is Huawei that is unforgettable. After being chased and intercepted by the United States, although Huawei faced the crisis of “lack of cores”, it still withstood waves of offensives. Although there was a relatively obvious decrease in revenue, profit margins continued to rise.

Huawei has also stated many times that the company will fully support the Huawei HiSilicon team to break the bottleneck. When Huawei HiSilicon returns in the near future, it will be the time when Huawei mobile phones will be completely “de-beautified”. This is also why the United States has released the supply of Qualcomm chips to Huawei, but Huawei has chosen to refuse.

From an industrial point of view, it is indeed difficult for general-purpose chips. The reason why it is difficult is that there are many obstacles in technology and ecology. Technically, because general-purpose CPUs need to have comprehensive performance, they can theoretically do anything that special-purpose chips can do, so it is very difficult to develop.

What’s more, Intel’s X86 architecture has been developed for a long time, is stable and mature, and has advanced performance, occupying an absolute advantage in the field of general-purpose chips. In order to develop chips with X86 architecture, it is necessary to obtain authorization from Intel, which is a hurdle that domestic enterprises cannot overcome.

Historically, AMD was able to obtain the authorization of X86 because of the multi-supplier requirements of IBM, a major computer customer of the year, and Intel could not become the exclusive supplier, so it was authorized to AMD in 1982. However, Intel later withdrew the authorization, so the two also fought a lawsuit for many years, forming the current situation. Now it is clear that Intel does not want more competitors to enter.

The emergence of the ARM architecture has given hope to new players in the field of general-purpose chips. However, in today’s server and computer market, because Intel’s X86 architecture occupies an overwhelming advantage, downstream server and computer brand manufacturers have to consider and fear Intel’s strong position. After all, whether Intel can supply and how much can be supplied Decide on your own shipments, which creates a different situation from the smartphone market.

In any case, the ARM architecture still gives Chinese manufacturers opportunities and hope. Ali’s chips and Huawei’s chips are all based on the ARM architecture. In the future, the situation where X86 dominates the world may change.

China’s entry of chips, the pattern has changed

Since the supply of chips was cut off, the sales of American semiconductor companies have shown a cliff-like decline. American semiconductor companies headed by Qualcomm and Intel are mourning, a large amount of goods hoarding in warehouses cannot be realized, and factories are faced with the dilemma of being unable to start without orders.

According to statistics from authoritative institutions, after the US announced the chip ban, the semiconductor industry lost as much as trillions. In order to save its own face and consolidate the market economy, the United States can only stabilize the economy by putting in excess dollars.

With the actions of the United States, the planning and production of the chip industry chain have been destroyed. In 2020, the price of chip raw materials will rise and manufacturers will stock up, making the shortage of chips intensified.

Therefore, domestic companies have increased their investment in the chip field. According to the company’s data, there are 86,400 chip-related companies in my country. In 2019, 6,791 new chip companies were added, and 20,900 new chip-related companies were added in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 207.39%, which was three times that of 2019.

2020 is the year with the largest number of new chip companies in the past decade, and it is also the fastest year, far exceeding other years.

In the first nine months of 2021, there were 32,100 new chip companies in my country, a year-on-year increase of 153.39%. In the recent September, 4,328 new chip companies were added, a year-on-year increase of 76.94%. Overall, the number of chip companies registered in 2021 is still increasing, and the number of monthly registrations is twice that of 2020. Among them, more than 4,000 new chip-related companies were added in June, July and September.

Under such a situation, the development of domestic chips is bound to become faster and faster, and the problem of insufficient supply of external chips will be solved by localized substitution of some products.

Zhang Zhaozhong, the soul of the Zhan Hu Bureau, once predicted that the United States will restrict Chinese chips for three years, and no one will want American chips by then, and the streets in China will be filled. Perhaps in a few years, Zhang Juzuo’s prediction will become a reality, and more and more domestic IP chips will come out, which means that the self-sufficiency rate of domestic chips will be further improved.

But we should also clearly recognize that domestic chip companies are increasing, but there is still a lack of giant companies. Compared with giant chip design companies such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, Intel, MediaTek, AMD, Apple, and Nvidia, domestic chip design companies still At the stage of being small and scattered, they have not yet reached the stage of “big but not strong”.

It should be pointed out that the above giants basically have strong general-purpose CPU design capabilities, occupy a large global share, and have strong capital and technical strength.

China’s determination to enter the chip market is the biggest change and increment in this industry. The current situation in Georgia will change drastically until a new stable pattern emerges.

Have an open mind

By restricting the way that foundries provide chip foundries to companies, it will only cause further shortages of global chips. This move by the United States is not very clever.

In addition to China’s reaction, Europe has also made moves. At the end of last year, in order to get rid of the influence of external chip supply, 17 EU countries formed their own joint industrial alliance to strengthen Europe’s strategic position in the global chip market.

Today, the changes in relevant rules are still intensifying, and the US’s disturbance to the chip industry is still intensifying. The more this is the case, the more it will stimulate the fighting spirit of Chinese enterprises, and give the EU, Japan and South Korea more insecurity. In this situation, the top-down chip pyramid in the United States is even more difficult to stabilize.

But we should also keep a clear head and an open mind. As Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said, the more the United States suppresses us, the more we should learn from the United States.

Adjust the strategy, integrate into the world, and at the same time let the world embrace China and make China their biggest market. In such a pattern, China will find a breakthrough in the chip field, and the problem will be solved.

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