Text / Leju Finance Jin Wenyu
On a circuit board, even if only 1% of the critical chips cannot be supplied, it may cause the entire circuit board to fail to work. For the automotive industry, “lack of cores” is a hot topic this year. And this time the automotive industry is short of cores, starting from the end of 2020.
The car lacks cores, and the most urgently needed is the car-grade MCU (micro control unit), which is actually a small and complete chip-level computer. Since last year, the MCU has been seriously out of stock, and almost all car companies in the world have been affected. Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen have stopped work one after another.
From the perspective of the global industry chain, the MCU market has been completely dominated by foreign manufacturers for many years. However, in recent years, due to the continuous aggravation of the industry predicament of the lack of cores in automotive MCUs, the trend of domestic substitution has become an industry consensus. On the domestic car MCU track, there are also some companies that have begun to break through.
Recently, Suzhou Yuntu semiconductor Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Yuntu) has obtained a strategic investment from Baolong Technology (603197.SH), an A-share listed company. This investment will be used to accelerate the R&D and mass production of Yuntu Semiconductor’s automotive-grade MCU chips, and empower the further advancement of the domestic automotive semiconductor industry.
Entering the car-level MCU track
Automotive-grade MCU is the core semiconductor device in automobile manufacturing. 1/3 of the chips in a car are MCUs. MCUs play the role of unit module control in automotive applications, ranging from body control and powertrain to wipers, lights and lighting, doors, trunks, seats, locks and keys, side mirrors, and airbags All other control units need to use MCU.
Yuntu was established in 2020 as a fabless semiconductor and integrated circuit design company focusing on automotive-grade chips. The company brings together the world’s top semiconductor companies and talents in the automotive electronics industry. The core team is a top team with more than 10 years of complete development experience in automotive-grade MCUs.
At the beginning of this year, Yuntu launched the first vehicle-grade 32-bit MCU chip YTM32B1L series products, designed in accordance with the reliability requirements of vehicle regulations AEC-Q100, mainly used in sensor control, tire pressure monitoring, seats, electric tailgate, car windows And applications such as headlight control. The YTM32B1L chip will be shipped in small batches before the end of November this year.
At the end of August, Yuntu completed the strategic cooperation with Xiaomi and obtained strategic investment from Xiaomi Changjiang Fund. This round of financing is mainly used to accelerate the technology research and development of Yuntu Semiconductor’s automotive-grade MCUs, as well as market development and product planning in the automotive body domain and core areas such as chassis, power, and safety.
At present, Yuntu Semiconductor has established its own integrated circuit design and verification platform, formulated the development process and specifications, and successfully developed a number of chips with independent intellectual property rights, and applied for a number of related patents.
Hard requirements for automotive-grade MCUs
From the perspective of application fields, MCUs can be divided into four categories: consumer grade, industrial grade, automotive grade and military grade. The technical difficulty and requirements increase in turn. Compared with consumer MCUs, the automotive-grade MCU track where Yuntu is located has a very high industry threshold.
Because automotive-grade chips involve driving safety, they need to have high reliability, high security, high consistency, and zero failure rate. The investment in R&D, testing and verification is very large.
First of all, cars are not consumables. Most of the cycles from landing to the end of use are more than 10 years. Therefore, there are strict requirements on service life. The service life of vehicle-grade MCUs must be much higher than the service life of the car to ensure the car. driving safety.
Secondly, stability is very important for vehicle-grade MCUs. The road conditions of the car are uncertain. When designing a vehicle-grade MCU, it is necessary to consider the impact of collisions, jitters, etc. on the chip during driving and the long-term vehicle Use the interference problem caused by circuit aging to improve the stability of automotive-grade MCUs.
Vehicle-grade MCUs are generally assembled inside the car and are responsible for the control of various functional units. The car will generate a lot of heat during driving. In order to ensure driving safety, vehicle-grade MCUs also need to have the ability to resist high temperatures. In some areas, the temperature environment is harsh, and the temperature will drop below zero in winter. Therefore, the vehicle-grade MCU also needs to have the ability to resist low temperature, so as to avoid the low temperature failure of the chip and the failure of the car to start. Generally, the temperature resistance range of automotive-grade MCUs is -40°C to 150°C.
Due to the long R&D cycle of automotive-grade chips, high design thresholds, and large capital investment, many domestic manufacturers are discouraged, which leads to very weak domestic MCU control chip companies, and the domestic market share is close to zero.
Start the battle for “chip freedom”
The chip has become a mountain in front of the automotive industry chain, and the automotive-grade MCU in the MCU segment is a mountain in front of the domestic semiconductor industry chain. Sales of new energy vehicles have repeatedly hit new highs, and the market demand for MUCs has also risen, accounting for about 40% of total MCU sales in the past decade.
The amount of MCUs in an ordinary fuel vehicle ranges from 70 to 100. Due to the continuous advancement of electric vehicles in the direction of intelligence, and the rapid development of automatic driving and advanced driver assistance systems, each complex functional unit requires extremely strong performance. Therefore, the MCU consumption of electric vehicles is twice or more than that of fuel vehicles.
As a big country in automobile manufacturing and consumption, China’s automobile chip import rate is as high as 95%. Since the problem of “lack of cores” has been staged around the world, improving the self-sufficiency of automotive chips and enhancing the independent and controllable capabilities of the industrial chain and supply chain are becoming the focus of my country’s efforts to overcome difficulties in the semiconductor field.
In the face of the vast growth space of automotive electronics, some domestic companies are already eager to try, and a large number of companies such as Jiefa Technology, Zhaoyi Innovation, National Technology, Yuntu, Guoxin, BYD, etc. have begun to enter the market, and some are on the way.
It is reported that Yuntu Semiconductor will launch YTM32B1M high-end automotive-grade MCU series products that meet ISO-26262 ASIL-B level. This series of products is currently under development and is expected to be completed and tape-out this year. Samples of standard products. Yuntu will also expand products in the fields of domain controllers, vehicle gateways, and smart cockpits based on body MCUs.
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