COVID-19 attacked the manufacturing industry, and chip shortages spread around the world. Prices surged like Domino. In this special period, domestic enterprises are forced to rely on themselves. SMIC tries to break through the bottleneck technology, Xiaomi and other high-tech enterprises to make chips The unintentional empty city effect may become an opportunity for the development of domestic chips.
Individual stocks burst out and enterprises “make cores” themselves
In recent years, chip related stocks such as Junsheng Electronics (600699), Weier shares (603501) and NavInfo (002405) have been favored, and their stock prices have risen. Take chip packaging test leader Jingfang technology as an example. The company’s annual report on the evening of March 26 showed that the company’s production orders were full, and the packaging business volume showed a rapid growth trend in each quarter. Last year, the company made a profit of 382 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 252.35%.
In the field of integrated circuits, jingjiawei released the performance forecast for the first quarter of 2021, which shows that the performance is expected to rise in the same direction. During the reporting period, the net profit attributable to shareholders of listed companies increased by 72.75% – 96.3% over the same period of last year. The report directly attributed the sharp increase in the company’s performance to the sharp increase in product sales in the chip field and the stable year-on-year growth in product sales in the graphic display and control field.
The capital market is good, and many enterprises are actively making cores. Recently, SMIC signed a US $1.2 billion order with ASML of the Netherlands. Although ASML of the Netherlands said in a statement that the order is not a high-end EUV photoresist, the industry generally believes that even if the DUV photoresist is unable to challenge the production of high-end chips for the time being, it can at least meet the demand of middle and low-end chips. It is the low-end chips that are not in the high-end market.
In addition, SMIC is also developing the process technology of 10nm chip, 7Nm chip and 5nm chip at the same time. SMIC also said that it will start the risk market based on the second-generation n + 1 process in April this year. This process level is equivalent to TSMC’s 7Nm chip, which is also the bottleneck that needs to be overcome in the current domestic chip development.
Zhang Xiaorong, President of the Institute of deep science and technology, explained to reporters that for chip manufacturers outside the head, “7Nm” is a threshold. For example, Intel, the old US chip giant, was forced to be controlled by others because it was unable to make a breakthrough in 7Nm, so that it recently said it wanted to enter the generation processing field.
At the same time, Xiaomi announced that it will release a new surging chip on March 29, which will be an independent research and development chip. Four years after its previous generation surging chip S1 was released, it will launch its own research and development chip again, which seems to be intended to continue its independent chip research and development road.
Independent research and development of chips has become the core technology symbol of mobile phone enterprises. In addition to Xiaomi, oppo is also doing its best to research and develop chips, and has set up a chip R & D center. For this reason, oppo is recruiting chip R & D talents on a large scale. The tide of domestic chip research and development may come.
Second hand equipment is popular
Recently, according to CCTV financial reports, from January to February this year, the import of integrated circuits at Kunshan port in Jiangsu Province alone exceeded 10 billion yuan. While the quantity was basically the same as last year, the import amount increased by 20%, and chip prices continued to rise.
Due to the shortage of supply, chips and core raw materials are also rising, and it is difficult for some even to increase the price to get the goods. According to the customs officers at Kunshan port, in the past, the amount of photoresist purchased by enterprises was more than 100 kg each time. Recently, due to the shortage of raw materials, enterprises can only buy a very small amount each time. The company is facing the situation of full orders and increasing demand for downstream chips. The company has been expanding its production capacity from last year to now, and the current capacity is at full load.
In fact, since the fourth quarter of last year, the price increase in the semiconductor field has continued, and the news about the tight capacity of 8-inch wafer fabs of chip manufacturers has been heard all the time. At the end of last year, the capacity shortage extended to 12 inch wafers. From the price increase of wafer to the price increase of material, then to the price increase of printed circuit board, package test, and finally to the price increase of chip The rising price of chips caused by materials, wafers, packaging and testing in the upstream of the industrial chain is gradually spreading in the whole industry.
The price of the whole industry chain has risen greatly, and even chip manufacturing equipment has been included in it. Bruce Kim, chief executive of surplus global, one of South Korea’s largest distributors of used chip manufacturing equipment, said: “the demand for used equipment is very strong, which has increased by 20% in the past six months, while the number of renovated 200 mm devices in inventory has dropped to 1000, far lower than 7000-8000 a decade ago.”
In order to buy second-hand chip manufacturing equipment, some buyers are willing to wait for the old factories in the United States, Japan and Europe to close down, hoping to rush to buy the chip manufacturing equipment in the first time. Rite track, an Ohio based company, normally buys old chip manufacturing equipment, upgrades it and sells it to chip factories. But Tim Hayden, chief executive of the company, said that because of the increase in layoffs in some factories in recent years, the company began to send technicians to these factories to upgrade the installed chip manufacturing equipment, so as to shorten the time to change hands.
At the beginning of 2021, the wave of rising chip prices is not only showing no sign of receding, but also growing. According to incomplete statistics, since 2021, up to now, there are more than 40 semiconductor manufacturers whose prices have increased or are about to increase. Among them, Samsung CMOS image sensor price has increased by 40%.
The lower reaches of grain shortage continue to rise in price
How long will the rising price of chips last? According to the analysis of Societe Generale Securities, since last year, due to the significant increase in the use of 5g mobile phone chips and the substantial stocking of key manufacturers, chips are obviously in short supply. This year, driven by the recovery of automobile and other industries, some downstream companies are still pursuing orders, which further aggravates the shortage of supply and leads to a rare shortage of wafer production capacity in history. After this round of shortage, most downstream brands will keep more inventory to cope with the risk. It is difficult to fundamentally change the overall supply and demand gap in the short term. It is judged that the shortage may continue for more than a year.
At present, many industries have been affected. Among them, the “hardest hit areas” of chip price increase involve data centers, network communications, mobile phones, personal computers, automobiles and other fields, and are facing the pressure of chip price increase and tight production capacity.
Novel coronavirus pneumonia analyst Ceng Guanwei said that in the early stage of the new crown pneumonia, the industry’s interior market judgement for TrendForce was relatively conservative, and the terminal manufacturers were cautious about stocking. However, mobile phone computer technology novel coronavirus pneumonia has been accelerating the development of digitalization. The home office, distance education and family entertainment are becoming more and more popular. The price of chip products related to these areas has been rising, especially in the field of mobile phones, personal computers and other chip products.
In addition to the huge market demand, the price rise of terminal chip products is also related to chip capacity and market atmosphere. Novel coronavirus pneumonia is going to be affected by the outbreak of the new crown pneumonia epidemic abroad, Zeng Guan Wei said. In addition, there is panic stock in the industry, and everyone is hoarding goods desperately, which aggravates the tension between supply and demand, and eventually leads to the price rise of chip products.
However, from the perspective of the industrial end, the segments of chip price increase are also concentrated on the small products with low profitability. Bu Rixin, general manager of chuangdao Investment Consulting Co., Ltd., further pointed out that because the market scale of these products is small and the profit is relatively small, the wafer foundry will give priority to supply products with large market scale and high profitability, such as consumer electronics processor chips, in the case of capacity decline. Under the influence of “priority supply”, the production capacity of small chips will be squeezed. When the supply can not keep up, the price rise will become an inevitable result.
However, as for the future development of the chip industry, many people in the industry are optimistic about the market demand and price trend, believing that the current wave of chip price increase will be terminated within this year.
Enough production capacity is another prerequisite for chip prices to return to a stable trend. Zhang Xiaorong predicts that in the fourth quarter of 2021, the market demand for chips will fall. He said that novel coronavirus pneumonia will gradually resume work and production as the global epidemic of new crown pneumonia is improving gradually. This will help to balance the supply and demand relationship in the market and promote the normalization of the price of chip products.
Beijing Business Daily reporter Tao Feng Chang Lei
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