Haidian Dongsheng Technology Park, Tyco Tianrun Semiconductor General Manager Chen Tong explained chip production to reporters. Beijing News reporter Wang Guibin
[Talking about new chips] The chip industry encounters opportunities for transformation and upgrading
Beijing News: What problems have traditional silicon-based chips encountered?
Chen Tong: Semiconductor technology has been developed for nearly half a century. In general, all directions have basically encountered a bottleneck in the past few years. If you want to make a breakthrough, you will probably have to work hard from the perspective of semiconductor materials. For example, in the field of power semiconductors we make, chips made of traditional silicon materials, firstly, it is difficult to further increase the switching frequency. If you want a higher frequency chip, you must change the material. Secondly, the silicon material is not temperature resistant and does not dissipate heat well. If you want to get a chip with better heat dissipation, more temperature resistance, and more reliability, you must also change the material.
Therefore, what is being considered is to replace silicon materials with new compound materials in order to provide users with higher-performance chips. This is a trend of technological upgrading that has emerged in the world in recent years, and this new trend provides our new domestic enterprises and new suppliers with an opportunity to enter this high-end industry that is often monopolized and blocked by large foreign companies. .
Beijing News: Who gave this opportunity?
Chen Tong: Given by the global industry. The entire technology upgrade must be given by the global industry. At present, leading companies such as General Electric and Mitsubishi are using old technologies to make money while accumulating new technologies. Our domestic companies can only look at them. Taking advantage of the gap in the transformation of new and old technologies, when new technologies have not been fully accepted by downstream companies, and the market has not fully opened up, seize this opportunity and quickly catch up.
Beijing News: Where are the silicon carbide chips you produce mainly used?
Chen Tong: From white goods to server power supplies, communication power supplies, rail transit, electric vehicles, and aerospace. Our devices can be used in all places that involve power conversion.
[Talking about chip manufacturing] It’s like building a house in your hair
Beijing News: What is the process of chip production and why is it so difficult?
Chen Tong: Chip manufacturing is the most difficult and most complex in the manufacturing industry. Why is it the most difficult? The chip needs to be structured level by level. To use an analogy, chip manufacturing is to build a house in the hair. Just like building a house, build one by one. It's just that our scale is micrometer and nanometer.
Beijing News: Chip entrepreneurship, what difficulties have you encountered?
Chen Tong: First of all, the new material semiconductor does not have so many foundry resources outside. Secondly, what we do is power semiconductors, which are lightly designed and heavy-handed. Heavy process is to control one's own production platform, in order to lay a better foundation for later research and development, development, and cost reduction.
Beijing News: What are the advantages of silicon carbide chips compared with previous chips, and how much is the price difference?
Chen Tong: As a new technology, silicon carbide can bring performance improvements, which can bring volume and weight compression and efficiency improvements to downstream products. Our new material chip is about eight times more expensive than the original silicon chip, but the system we made will not be as expensive as the original.
[Talk about competition] Can only fight for quality, service and technology
Beijing News: Which foreign companies are now international competitors in your market?
Chen Tong: In foreign countries, the semiconductor power device industry is generally the cornerstone of the country's strategy. Siemens in Europe, Mitsubishi in Japan, and General Electric in the United States are our competitors. They are basically international monopoly companies. We have been fighting with them in the market for several years, and then slowly cannibalize their market.
Beijing News: What is our market share?
Chen Tong: Frankly speaking, our market share accounts for about 10% of the domestic market, including server power supplies, communication power supplies, electric vehicles, and charging piles.
Beijing News: How can customers choose your products instead of foreign ones?
Chen Tong: We compete without borders, and there is no border restriction on competition in the chip industry. Why do downstream customers choose ours? Can only fight for quality, service, and technology. There is no shortcut. It is to strive step by step by being a human being and doing things, so that customers believe that our things are useful.
[Talk about investment] Spent 200 million to grab a bridgehead
Beijing News: What support have you received from the government in recent years?
Chen Tong: Our company has received a lot of attention and care in Beijing. The Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission and Zhongguancun basically have a variety of channels to support us every year to reduce the cost of enterprise development and R&D investment.
Beijing News: How much money have you invested so far, and where does the capital come from?
Chen Tong: There are external funds, government support, and our own. We spent more than two billion yuan, of which more than one billion yuan, and our team’s own funds more than one billion yuan. Such capital can allow us to grab a bridgehead. Our company has achieved the present with these two billions, and the reputation received in the industry is considered very good, but it is far from enough to compete with foreign countries for a long time.
Beijing News: How much do you think you need?
Chen Tong: It takes three to four billion.
Beijing News: How many years will it take from design to production of chips?
Chen Tong: The process of investing money to build a line will take two to three years, and it will take another five to six years to start production and climb the slope. Therefore, the most difficult thing to explain to the capital in our financing process is periodicity. Many industries can withdraw within three to four years, which is impossible for the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
Beijing News: Why do you insist on such a long cycle?
Chen Tong: We have a belief that there are many corporate values that cannot be reflected through profit. Semiconductors are such an industry. This is a shortcoming that our country’s policy needs to make up for. If this shortcoming cannot be made up, it is difficult to break through the chip and break through new materials.
■ Background Zhongguancun will introduce more support policies
In recent years, Beijing has deeply implemented 10 high-tech industry development guidance opinions including new generation information technology, formulated 5G, artificial intelligence, medical and health, intelligent networked vehicles, industrial Internet and other industry development action plans and plans, and strived to form a new generation of information The dual dynamics of technology and the innovation and development of the pharmaceutical and health industry.
In 2018, the new economy accounted for 33.2% of Beijing's GDP, the added value of high-tech manufacturing above designated size increased by 13.9%, and the added value of electronic information and pharmaceutical manufacturing increased by 15.2% and 16.2%, respectively. Advantageous service industries such as finance, information services, and technological services have contributed 67% of the city’s economic growth.
Last year, Zhongguancun introduced special support measures for the cultivation of high-precision and sophisticated industries in the Zhongguancun branch park, supporting 155 high-precision and sophisticated projects, and promoting the formation of distinctive industrial clusters in the branch park.
The relevant person in charge of the Zhongguancun Management Committee recently introduced that Zhongguancun has newly selected 33 cutting-edge technology companies and 200 golden seed companies to provide financial and service support to accurately cultivate more high-tech enterprises. On the basis of industrial policies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and integrated circuits that have already been introduced, support policies for the industrial Internet and pharmaceuticals and medical devices will be introduced soon to support the development of high-tech industries in more detail and precision.