Domestic silicon wafers enter a period of rapid growth: struggling to catch up with the international advanced level

At present, my country has gradually moved from the peak period of factory construction to the period of expansion. SEMI data shows that from 2017 to 2020, the number of new fabs to be built in my country accounted for 42% of the world; starting from 2020, with the gradual completion of construction, equipment moved into the production line, and the fab began to enter the stage of trial production to expansion.

In the next five years, China’s wafer production capacity will usher in a breakthrough and rapid increase. From 2017 to 2020, China’s chip production capacity will increase from 2.76 million pieces/month to 4.6 million pieces/month, with a compound annual growth rate of 18.5%, which is higher than the global average.

At present, the global semiconductor wafer market is highly concentrated, mainly occupied by companies from countries and regions such as Japan, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan. More than half of the world’s semiconductor silicon material production capacity is concentrated in Japan, and the larger the size, the more serious the monopoly. From 2016 to 2018, the industry concentration continued to increase. ]

  [ 根据SEMI数据,2016~2018年,中国大陆半导体硅片销售额年均复合增长率达到41.17%。 ]

  [ 2017~2020年我国拟新建晶圆厂数量占全球42%。 ]

At the end of August, domestic semiconductor manufacturers have successively released their results for the first half of 2020. Shanghai Silicon Industry Group Co., Ltd. (Shanghai Silicon Industry) achieved operating income of 854 million yuan in the first half of the year, an increase of 30.53% over the same period of the previous year; net loss of 82.5942 million yuan, an increase of 10.17% over the same period of the previous year; after deducting non-recurring gains and losses The net loss was 150 million yuan, an increase of 29.57% over the loss in the same period of the previous year.

Shanghai Silicon Industry said that the increase in revenue was mainly due to the acquisition of Xinao Technology at the end of March 2019, while the sales of 300mm silicon wafers from its subsidiary Shanghai Xinsheng continued to increase; the decline in profits was mainly due to the continuous increase in R&D investment and the impact of market prices. , resulting in an increase in the provision for inventory depreciation.

Silicon wafer: the core semiconductor material

Semiconductor materials include semiconductor manufacturing materials and packaging and testing materials. According to data from SEMI (International Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Association), the global semiconductor material market in 2018 was US$51.9 billion, a year-on-year increase of 10.6%, exceeding US$47.1 billion in 2011, a record high. Among them, semiconductor manufacturing materials revenue reached 32.2 billion US dollars.

Semiconductor manufacturing materials mainly include silicon wafers, Electronic gases, photomasks, photoresist supporting chemicals, polishing materials, photoresists, wet chemicals and sputtering targets. Among them, semiconductor silicon wafer is the core material of semiconductor manufacturing and the cornerstone of the semiconductor industry, accounting for about one-third of semiconductor manufacturing materials. At present, more than 90% of semiconductor products are made of silicon-based materials.

Benefiting from the strong demand in the semiconductor end market, the semiconductor wafer market has grown continuously since 2017, and exceeded the US$10 billion mark in 2018. According to SEMI statistics, from 2016 to 2018, the global semiconductor silicon wafer sales increased from US$7.209 billion to US$11.4 billion, with an average annual compound growth rate of 25.65%; the unit sales price rose from US$0.67/inch to US$0.90/inch, and The average compound growth rate reached 15.49%.

Wafers used in semiconductor manufacturing can be divided into 50mm (2 inches), 75mm (3 inches), 100mm (4 inches), 150mm (6 inches), 200mm (8 inches) and 300mm (12 inches) according to their size specifications. . The larger the size of the semiconductor silicon wafer, the higher the technical difficulty of its production. Under the influence of Moore’s Law, semiconductor silicon wafers are constantly developing in the direction of large size.

At present, the mainstream product specifications in the global semiconductor silicon wafer market are 300mm silicon wafers and 200mm silicon wafers, and the proportion of 300mm large silicon wafers continues to rise. In 2018, the share of 300mm silicon wafers reached 63.31%.

300mm silicon wafers are mainly used for integrated circuit chips with processes below 90nm. The introduction of technologies such as 5G, IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and big data has driven the accelerated upgrade of semiconductor technology, which in turn drives the demand for 300mm silicon wafers.

The yield and quality of silicon wafers directly affect the production of chips, as well as the development of many downstream applications such as communications, automobiles, and computers.

At present, the global semiconductor wafer market is highly concentrated, mainly occupied by companies from countries and regions such as Japan, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan. More than half of the world’s semiconductor silicon material production capacity is concentrated in Japan, and the larger the size, the more serious the monopoly.

From 2016 to 2018, the industry concentration continued to increase, and the combined market share of the top five semiconductor wafer makers Shin-Etsu Chemical, Japan Sumco, Germany Siltronic, China Taiwan Global Wafer and South Korea LGSiltron increased from 85% to 93%.

Domestic production capacity has entered a period of rapid growth

As the largest semiconductor product end market, the scale of China’s semiconductor wafer market is continuing to grow rapidly with the expansion of domestic semiconductor production lines.

According to SEMI data, from 2016 to 2018, the sales of semiconductor wafers in mainland China rose from US$500 million to US$996 million, with an average annual compound growth rate of 41.17%, much higher than the 25.75% of the global semiconductor wafer market in the same period.

At the same time, the expansion of overseas silicon wafer giants is relatively small. According to SUMCO’s forecast, the global 12-inch silicon wafer production capacity will increase slightly in 2020, and there is almost no expansion plan for 8-inch silicon wafers. In addition, the global 8-inch silicon wafer production capacity will be reduced in 2019. It is expected that the supply and demand pattern of silicon wafers will continue to be tight in 2020.

In addition to the newly added production lines in various places, the foundry leader TSMC and the mainland leader SMIC have also expanded capital expenditures this year, driving sales of semiconductor equipment and materials.

SMIC’s net profit in the second quarter hit a new high in a single quarter. Due to strong market demand, SMIC raised its capital expenditure to US$6.7 billion again on August 7, following an additional annual capital expenditure of US$1.1 billion to US$4.3 billion in the first quarter.

Strive to catch up with the international advanced level

Semiconductor wafers are also one of the links with the largest gap between my country’s semiconductor industry chain and the international advanced level. At present, domestic semiconductor wafer companies represented by Shanghai Silicon Industry and Zhonghuan Co., Ltd. are struggling to catch up.

At present, the domestic share only accounts for about 3% of the global silicon wafer market share. Mainland China mainly produces semiconductor silicon wafers of 200mm and below. Before 2017, almost all 300mm semiconductor wafers relied on imports; in 2018, Shanghai Xinsheng, a subsidiary of Shanghai Silicon Industry, took the lead in achieving large-scale sales of 300mm wafers, breaking the situation that the localization rate of 300mm semiconductor wafers was almost zero. .

Some of the 300mm semiconductor wafer products of Shanghai Silicon Industry have been certified by chip manufacturing companies such as SMIC and Huali Microelectronics, and some target customers are still in the product certification stage.

Shanghai Silicon Industry said that Shanghai Xinsheng is in the process of raising investment projects, that is, the construction of the second phase of the R&D and industrialization of 300mm silicon wafer technology for integrated circuit manufacturing. Although the installation of equipment was delayed in the first half of the year due to the impact of the epidemic, the plan to reach a production capacity of 200,000 pieces/month by the end of 2020 remains unchanged through the subsequent acceleration of progress.

Zhonghuan Co., Ltd. issued an announcement on the evening of July 15, announcing the progress of the mixed ownership reform of Zhonghuan Group by the controlling shareholder Tianjin Zhonghuan Electronic Information Group Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Central Group”). Through bidding, TCL Technology became the final transferee of the mixed-ownership reform project in Zhonghuan. The main products of Zhonghuan Co., Ltd. include the manufacture and sales of semiconductor materials, semiconductor devices, new energy materials, and new materials, financial leasing business, and the development and operation of high-efficiency photovoltaic power station projects.

Through the mixed-ownership reform project in the middle ring, TCL Technology has further enriched the layout of the semiconductor Display industry chain, and extended to upstream core areas such as materials and equipment. Fang Jing, chief analyst of the electronics industry at Cinda Securities, pointed out that the Zhonghuan mixed-use reform project will be a win-win for Zhonghuan and TCL Technology.

Zhonghuan Co., Ltd. said that the group will promote the company’s products to cover IGBT, MEMS, Sensor, BCD, PMIC, CIS, Logic, Memory and other types of chips in an orderly manner, and successively carry out business cooperation with more than 10 of the global TOP25 chip customers.

In addition, Wuxi Municipal Government is joining hands with Zhonghuan Co., Ltd. and Jingsheng Electromechanical Co., Ltd. to jointly invest in the establishment of a large-scale integrated circuit silicon wafer production base. The project started in December 2017 with a total investment of 3 billion yuan, of which the first phase is 1.5 billion yuan. After the entire project is put into production, it will achieve a monthly production capacity of 750,000 8-inch silicon wafers and 500,000 12-inch silicon wafers/month. capacity.

Benefiting from the innovation of semiconductor technology and the increase of terminal electronic consumer goods, the demand for semiconductor raw materials has also increased. In the context of large-scale expansion of domestic chip manufacturers, domestic semiconductor materials, especially large silicon wafer manufacturers, will also usher in good opportunities for development.

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