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U.S. and South Korean giants divide 94% of global market Is there still a chance for domestic memory chips?

via:时代周报     time:2021/11/26 8:05:03     readed:105

The lack of core tide continues, and when to ease it is still uncertain.

"5G-driven semiconductor demand, coupled with geopolitical and outbreak-driven panic reserves, is still in short supply of wafer foundry capacity." Recently, at the MTS2022 Storage Industry Trends Summit hosted by TrentForce Jibang Consulting, Jibang Consulting analyst Joan said.

TrendForce Consulting estimates that after two years of chip shortages, the wafer foundry has announced that it will release expanded capacity in 2022, with new capacity concentrated in the 40nm and 28nm processes. However, as the timing of output of new capacity falls in the second half of 2022, which coincides with the traditional peak season, capacity relief may not be evident under the premise that the supply chain is actively preparing for the end-of-year festival.

This year, China's memory chip manufacturers have developed rapidly. Citic Securities said in a research note that the Yangtze River Storage, Huahong Group, SMIC, Changxin Storage and other fabs actively expand production, driving the domestic semiconductor equipment market growth rate twice as fast as the global market.

Still, in the global industry's competitive landscape, Chinese chipmakers are still struggling to shake the market position of overseas companies such as Samsung and Intel.


Chinese manufacturers are accelerating production expansion

Memory chip applications are wide, common electronic devices are basically the use of memory chips, from the memory chip segmentation products, DRAM and NAND Flash accounted for more than 95% of the market share of memory chips.

China is the world's largest market for memory chips. More than $80 billion of China's $300 billion-a-year chip imports are reported to be for memory chips, including DRAM chips and NAND Flash chips.

In the international competitive landscape, memory chips have long been monopolized by Korean, Japanese, American and other countries. Samsung, SK Helix and Metsun dominate the DRAM space.

Samsung topped the global DRAM market share in the third quarter of 2021 with 44%, SK Helix edged down to 27.2% in the face of reduced shipments, and Metstar edged up to 22.9%, with the three giants accounting for more than 94% of the market, according to Jibang Consulting.

NAND Flash, Samsung, Armor, Western Data, Amtlight, Helix, Intel as industry leaders. China is the world's second-largest NAND Flash market, accounting for more than 31%, but less than 1% of the local supply market, according to Minsheng Securities in July.

On November 18, when creative chairman Yan Huangzhong told the Times weekly, China's memory chip industry started late, before, in the field of DRAM and NAND Flash have no domestic manufacturers, in recent years, to the Yangtze River storage, Changxin storage as the representative of the domestic leading manufacturers began to rise.

"As a newcomer to the flash storage industry, Changjiang Storage has taken three years to make the leap from 32 to 64 to 128." In April last year, Changjiang Storage announced the successful development of the 128-tier QLC 3D NAND flash memory, said Yan, senior vice president of storage marketing and sales at Changjiang.

Citic Securities said in the research report, Changjiang Storage is a domestic 3D NAND Flash memory head manufacturers, the first phase of the project in 2019 production capacity reached 20,000 pieces / month, in 2020 to expand production to 50,000 pieces / month level, the first phase of the project is expected to reach 100,000 pieces / month production capacity, the second phase of civil construction started in June 2020, the two phases of production capacity planning a total of 300,000 pieces / month.

Changxin Storage as the domestic DRAM memory leader, the three-phase total production capacity planning 375,000 pieces / month. Citic Securities expects its production capacity to expand from 40,000 tablets per month at the beginning of 2021 to 125,000 tablets per month in 2022-2023, while the second phase of construction (125,000 tablets per month) is expected to start in 2022-2023.

Domestic chips to the high-end advanced

Running fast enough is a problem that requires constant thinking for storage vendors.


Take DRAM as an example, because DRAM process miniaturization has gradually faced physical limits, after 20nm process, in addition to Micron 1 alphanm still has nearly 30% of the growth of single wafer bits, other from 1Xnm to 1Ynm, or 1Ynm to 1Znm process, the growth rate has shrunk to less than 15%.

Huasun Electronics Technology Chief Engineer Wei Zhixuan told the Times Weekly reporter, in recent years, domestic and foreign enterprise-class storage master chip market developed rapidly, fierce competition, Huasun Electronics not only to face Intel, Samsung, Microlight and other flash original, but also to face The traditional master control factories such as Meiman Electronics, Microsemi competition.

Domestic memory chips must advance from the low end to the high end. Chen Lei, deputy general manager of Dongxin Semiconductor, said that as a local chip supplier, dongxin Semiconductor currently employs more than 40% of its employees are research and development engineers, through independent product design, as well as cooperation with domestic fabs and packaging testing plants, has created a local supply chain system.

At the market level, emerging industries such as 5G, automotive electronics, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT) bring strong demand for memory chips and put forward new requirements for product performance, including refined processes, improved product reliability, and reduced package sizes, prompting rapid iteration of products.

This also puts forward new requirements for the whole industrial chain. Yin Huangzhong said that in the 1.0 era, module manufacturers can only do some simple processing testing, development capacity is weak, products to Micro SD card, U disk, etc. mainly In the industry has a certain degree of visibility, but sales are still difficult to break through, into the 3.0 era, module manufacturers from chip hardware to software, firmware development, extension to system-level development and the entire equipment automation line for transformation, has a comprehensive technology development capabilities.

"While Moore's Law has been challenged in many areas of semiconductors, it continues to play a role in the field of flash memory." Liu Gang, vice president of Western Data and general manager of China business, said that under Moore's law, flash memory density and performance have increased rapidly and capital efficiency has increased significantly.

According to Liu Gang's analysis, Moore's Law has three dimensions that can play a role in the field of flash memory: line width, increasing density horizontally in the same layer, stacking, developing vertically, and changing the settings of logical units in the same cell, from the original Single-Level Cell, single-tier storage unit to the MLC (Multi-Level Cell, double-tier storage unit), TLC (Trinary-Level Cell, Three-tier storage units), QLC (Quad-Level Cell, four-tier storage units), each cell can grow.

Although the current memory chip market is dominated by overseas giants, domestic companies are in a relatively backward state, but domestic memory chips have been in various sub-sectors to catch up, and achieved significant progress. "Local storage manufacturers are catching up, and there is a close and interdependent industrial ecosystem between companies, with domestic alternatives just in time." Chen Lei said.

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