Electronic Enthusiast Network reported (text / Liang Haobin) The global semiconductor demand ushered in almost the largest growth in history last year. According to data from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics Organization, the global semiconductor market sales in 2021 will reach 555.9 billion US dollars (about 3514.5 billion US dollars). RMB), a year-on-year increase of 26.2%.

China continues to be the world's largest semiconductor market, with total sales in 2021 of $192.5 billion (about 1,217.5 billion yuan), a year-on-year increase of 27.1%.

The semiconductor market can be further subdivided into integrated circuits, sensors, optoelectronic devices, and discrete devices. According to data recently released by the China Semiconductor Industry Association, the sales of China's integrated circuit industry in 2021 will be 1,045.83 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 18.2%. This is also the first time that the annual sales of China's integrated circuit industry has exceeded one trillion yuan.

Among them, the sales of the design industry was 451.9 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 19.6%; the sales of the manufacturing industry was 317.63 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 24.1%; the sales of the packaging and testing industry was 276.3 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 10.1%.

The overall increase in semiconductor sales is large, which can also be reflected in the import and export data. According to the statistics of the General Administration of Customs, China will import 635.48 billion integrated circuit products in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 16.9%; the import value is 432.55 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 23.6%. The export of integrated circuit products was 310.7 billion pieces, a year-on-year increase of 19.6%; the export value was 153.79 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 32%.

The growth of these data means that the domestic integrated circuit market demand continues to increase. In fact, since 2005, China has been the world's largest integrated circuit market. In the past ten years, while the market size has continued to expand, the number of integrated circuit trade deficits has also continued to increase.

Under the lack of cores, the trade deficit of integrated circuits continues to expand

Domestic substitution is the main development direction of the domestic integrated circuit industry at present. Whether it is since Huawei, SMIC and other companies entered the entity list, or the global shortage of cores after the epidemic, they have become the driving force for the development of domestic alternatives to integrated circuits.

However, it can be found from last year's domestic integrated circuit import and export data that even though there was a serious shortage of overseas chip supply last year, in fact, the integrated circuit trade deficit continued to expand.

Electronic Enthusiast Network has counted the quantitative data of my country's integrated circuit import and export from 2017 to 2021. Although the import and export volume has maintained a growth trend in the past five years, it is clear that the import volume has grown rapidly, only from the number of import and export products. It can be seen that the trade deficit in the integrated circuit industry is constantly widening. Between 2017 and 2021, China's IC imports increased by 68.8%, but exports only increased by 52.1%.

In terms of the import and export value of integrated circuits, the export value has maintained a steady increase in the past five years. Although the import value declined year-on-year in 2019, it ushered in a substantial increase last year. From 2017 to 2021, China's integrated circuit import value increased by 66.3%. Although the deficit figure is still growing, the export value has more than doubled in five years, reaching 130%.

On the other hand, the current mainstream domestic alternative idea is to start from scratch and enter the market with low prices from the low end. This phenomenon can be reflected in the unit price of integrated circuit products.

Taking the import and export data of integrated circuits in 2021 as an example, the number of imported integrated circuit products in 2021 is about 635.5 billion, and the amount is 432.6 billion US dollars, that is, the average unit price of imported integrated circuit products is 0.68 US dollars (about 4.3 yuan) ; The number of exported integrated circuits is 310.7 billion, with an amount of 153.8 billion US dollars, that is, the average unit price is only 0.495 US dollars (about 3.1 yuan), and the average unit price of export products is 72.1% of imported products.

The same calculation method is used to count the data of the past five years. From 2017 to 2021, the average unit price of export products is 47.5%, 52.1%, 67.7%, 69.7%, and 72.1% of imported products, respectively. This shows that in the past five years, the unit price difference of China's integrated circuit import and export products is gradually narrowing.

So optimistically, the localization of integrated circuits is showing initial results, and the value of export products is increasing. However, the results of domestic substitution cannot be fully reflected in the unit price of export products, because, first of all, in the sales of integrated circuits last year, design companies accounted for more than 45%, and manufacturing accounted for only about 32%. Regardless of production capacity or advanced manufacturing process, many domestic chip design companies still need to hand over the manufacturing part to wafer foundries outside the mainland, and this part will still be included in the data of imported products. At the same time, many of the exported products are manufactured by factories set up by overseas semiconductor companies in mainland China.

Therefore, it can only be said that the local integrated circuit industry is constantly improving the value of its own products. Another practical problem is that the import and export trade deficit is still expanding. Obviously, at this stage, it is still difficult for mainland China to achieve large-scale domestic substitution in the integrated circuit industry, and the situation of relying on imports shows no signs of reversing.

Compared with chip design, semiconductor equipment is in urgent need of breakthroughs

In recent years, overseas sanctions and export controls against my country's high-tech industry have emerged one after another, and one of the most critical points is semiconductor equipment. Since 2000, the domestic integrated circuit industry has attracted many overseas talents to return to China due to the advantages of policy support, great market development prospects and entrepreneurial environment, and many excellent Fabless chip design companies have been born. Therefore, China does not lack the ability of chip design at present. Although there may be a big gap with the top international companies, in contrast, the heavy dependence on upstream materials, equipment, EDA software, etc., is more severe.

According to data released by the General Administration of Customs, my country's semiconductor manufacturing equipment imports from January to December 2021 were 490,563 units. In the classification of the General Administration of Customs, these semiconductor equipment are divided into three categories, namely: manufacturing single crystal columns Or machines and devices for wafers, machines and devices for the manufacture of semiconductor devices or integrated circuits, machines and devices for the manufacture of flat panel displays.

Source: General Administration of Customs

Among them, the purchasing volume of machines and devices for manufacturing flat panel displays is the largest, reaching 409,706 units, accounting for more than 80%, but the average unit price is only 90,000 yuan. The highest import value is "machines and devices for manufacturing semiconductor devices or integrated circuits", with 15,844 imported units, a total value of 136.9 billion yuan, and an average unit price of 8.64 million, which is the category with the highest unit price.

The SEMI report states that the total global sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment by original equipment manufacturers are expected to reach a new high of $103 billion in 2021, an increase of 44.7% from the historical record of $71 billion in 2020, and the total semiconductor equipment market is expected to be in 2022. Expanded to $114 billion. In the first three quarters of 2021, semiconductor equipment sales in mainland China reached US$21.45 billion, a year-on-year increase of 56.5%, significantly higher than the global growth rate, accounting for about 30% of the global market share, and still occupying the world's largest semiconductor equipment market position.

However, as the world's largest semiconductor equipment market, the localization of semiconductor equipment has always been at a low level. From the perspective of subdivided products, lithography machines, etching machines, and thin film deposition equipment are the main core equipment of semiconductor equipment, accounting for 24%, 20%, and 20% respectively. Followed by testing equipment and packaging equipment, accounting for 9% and 6% respectively.

At present, my country's domestic substitution rate in the fields of etching and cleaning exceeds 20%. However, core equipment with a high proportion of lithography/film deposition is still monopolized by foreign manufacturers and is highly dependent on imports.

In terms of lithography machines, Shanghai Microelectronics mass-produces SSA600 series lithography machines to meet the needs of 90nm critical and non-critical layer lithography processes in the front-end of IC; Yitang Co., Ltd. has a global market share of 31.3% for dry-process degumming equipment; The first low-energy large-beam ion implanter has been verified in a domestic 12-inch mainstream IC chip factory, and sales revenue has been confirmed.

The entire semiconductor industry chain is highly vertically divided, so the overall development requires the coordination of the entire industry chain, the development of upstream materials and equipment, and the support of downstream manufacturing companies. With the frequent interference of international sanctions, the acceptance of domestic equipment by downstream fabs is also increasing, which is also an important development opportunity for domestic equipment manufacturers.


Previously, the State Council issued a new policy on the development of the domestic integrated circuit industry, which mentioned that China's chip self-sufficiency rate should be increased to 70% by 2025. But judging from the current trade deficit in the integrated circuit industry, this goal is almost impossible to achieve. But on the other hand, as the world's largest semiconductor market, a large enough market is one of the biggest advantages for China to develop the integrated circuit industry. As long as there is continuous investment, it is believed that more new breakthroughs will be made in the development of the integrated circuit industry in the next few years.

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