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City's integrated circuit design takes lead

Shenzhen Daily

Updated:2021-01-19

The sales of the city's integrated circuit (IC) design industry in 2020 reached 130 billion yuan (US$20 billion), retaining the lead among Chinese cities for the ninth consecutive year, a Shenzhen Economic Daily report said yesterday, quoting sources from the Shenzhen Semiconductor Industry Association.

The city's IC design industry had formed a pattern of one super enterprise and four strong enterprises.

Hisilicon has become the largest IC design company, and the revenues of four other enterprises, specifically Sanechips, Goodix, BYD Microelectronics and FocalTech have exceeded 2 billion yuan. Shenzhen has formed an IC design and application industrial cluster of substantial scale and an IC design and application industrial chain in 5G, telecommunications, IoT, touch and display driver, automobile electronics and AI.

"The city's IC design has been taking the lead in China," Chang Junfeng, secretary general with Shenzhen Semiconductor Industry Association, said.

Yet compared to the design capability, the manufacturing capability is weaker, the enterprises are small in size and develop slowly.

Statistics provided by the Shenzhen Semiconductor Industry Association showed there are only three semiconductor manufacturers, namely SMIC Shenzhen Branch, Shenzhen Founder Microelectronics Co. Ltd. and Shenzhen SI Semiconductor Co. Ltd. The six production lines can produce low-end IC products, whose wafer size is 8 inches at maximum and technological level remains greater than 90 nanometers.

"The shortfall in manufacturing, if not made up, will hinder the development of IC design and the whole industry as well," Chang said.

The city lacks competitiveness in chip manufacturing, package testing, equipment and materials. Its leading position in design faces challenges from rivalries of other cities because of what it lacks.

Talented people are the key to improving competitiveness. Shenzhen, as well the whole country, faces a shortage of chip designers.

"Shenzhen needs 3,000 talented people for IC industry, but the eight higher learning institutions combined can supply no more than 1,000 talented people," said Chang, adding the high living costs of the city also dampens the expectations of talent coming to work in Shenzhen.

Chang suggested the city create polices for IC talent to attract and retain them to work in the city.


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