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Shanghai, which was ridiculed in those days, now holds up half the sky of Chinese chips!

release time:2022-03-17Author source:SlkorBrowse:1212

In 2011, Jiang Shangzhou, the 64-year-old founder of the Shanghai chip industry, came to the end of his life.


As he was dying, he was always worried about China's chip business.


He didn't open his eyes until someone shouted "lithography machine" in his ear. But in the end, regret to leave.



 


Shanghai, the largest city in China.


Most people's impression of it is still in China's economic, financial, shipping center, or an old industrial base with a developed textile industry.


But in fact, today's Shanghai is the vanguard of China's chip industry!


How powerful is Shanghai's chip industry?


Data show that In 2020, Shanghai's integrated circuit output value will exceed 200 billion yuan, accounting for 22% of the country's total.


At first glance, this data does not seem to be very good, but behind the boring data, there is a fact that many people do not know:


Shanghai is already the region with the most complete integrated circuit industry chain and the highest comprehensive technology level in China.


From design, manufacturing, packaging and testing, to materials, equipment, and five key areas of the chip industry chain, Shanghai has leading enterprises.


Ziguang Zhanrui, SMIC, China Micro, Shanghai Microelectronics, Shanghai Xinsheng... These names sound unfamiliar to ordinary people, but they represent the hope of China's chip industry to break through the blockade in different fields.


Taking SMIC as an example, it is the only wafer foundry in China that can provide 14nm process at present, and 7nm is also going all out.


In addition to SMIC, Shanghai also has Hua Hong Semiconductor.


This is the only two companies in mainland China among the top ten wafer foundries in the world, ranked fifth and sixth in the world respectively.


 


After Huawei HiSilicon was restricted, there was no mainland company among the top ten chip manufacturers in the world. Currently, the most likely replacement for HiSilicon is Shanghai-based UNISOC.


The latest data shows that Ziguang Zhanrui ranks fourth in the world in the mobile phone chip market, second only to MediaTek, Qualcomm and Apple.


Shanghai's influence on China's chip industry chain goes far beyond that.


In the two areas where we are most stuck - semiconductor equipment and materials, Shanghai has a layout, and some even represent the best hope for breaking through.


Taking lithography machine as an example, Shanghai Microelectronics is the only lithography machine giant in China, is expected to deliver the first domestic 28nm process lithography machine in 2021-2022.


Once successfully delivered, it will be a monument in the history of the domestic semiconductor industry.


Shanghai's breakthrough in the etching machine is even more inspiring. As early as 2018, China Micro Corporation developed the world's first 5nm plasma etching machine.


At present, the company's equipment has successfully entered the production lines of world-class manufacturers such as TSMC.


Semiconductor silicon wafers are the basic materials for the production of chips. Before 2017, almost all domestic 300mm semiconductor wafers were imported.


A few Japanese manufacturers such as Shin-Etsu Chemical and SUMCO (Sumitomo Mitsubishi) monopolize more than half of the global market.


It was not until 2018 that Shanghai Xinsheng, a subsidiary of Shanghai Silicon Industry, successfully realized the localization of 300mm semiconductor silicon wafers, which broke this embarrassing situation.


It can be said that today's Shanghai supports half the sky of China's chip industry, in some areas, it is even the only hope for the whole country.


But it is such a Shanghai, a few years ago, it was ridiculed by many people: it missed the Internet industry.



 


In 2018, an article titled "How Did Shanghai Miss the Internet Opportunities Over the Years? ” article, swiping the screen online.


 


The article argues that Shanghai is paying the price for its conservatism, as the city's golden age has come to an end because of missing the Internet.


The views of this article represent the views of many at the time. In the hustle and bustle of the Internet era, Shanghai does seem a little lonely.


Compared with Tencent in Shenzhen, Alibaba in Hangzhou, and Baidu and JD.com in Beijing, Shanghai does not seem to have any Internet giants.


However, it is not objective to say that Shanghai has no Internet genes. After all, eBay, Tudou, etc. have also appeared here, and Pinduoduo, Ele.me and Station B are still active.


Besides the lively Internet, Shanghai people have more foresight.


If you look back on 1999, most people will think of a turbulent era: that year, Jack Ma founded Ali, and Ma Huateng launched QQ.


But in fact, that year, another big event happened.


At that time, the former Ministry of Information Industry held a national integrated circuit "Tenth Five-Year" strategic planning seminar in Beijing, planning to spend five years building two 8-inch chip production lines.


For China's semiconductor industry, which has just experienced the failure of the 908/909 project under the technological blockade of the West, this is already a bold plan.


However, Jiang Shangzhou from Shanghai broke the pessimism that pervaded the meeting and proposed in one fell swoop: During the "Tenth Five-Year Plan" period, Shanghai will build ten 8-inch chip production lines!


The whole venue was in an uproar. You know, 16 years ago, it took the whole country to make one.


Jiang Shangzhou's seemingly crazy speech represents Shanghai's determination for industrial transformation.


In 1998, when Jiang Shangzhou, 41, was transferred from Hainan to be the deputy director of the Shanghai Economic Commission, the largest industrial city in China was going through the throes of reforming state-owned enterprises and layoffs of millions of workers.


Textiles, steel, petrochemicals... These traditional industries that once brought glory to Shanghai have gradually become the burden of history. Shanghai's future depends on high-tech and emerging industries, which has become the consensus of decision-makers at that time.


Jiangshangzhou's task is to screen out such strategic emerging industries for Shanghai, and integrated circuits are one of them.


 


After reviewing the history of Hsinchu Industrial Park in Taiwan, China and comparing the advantages and disadvantages of Shanghai, he suggested to the decision-makers in Shanghai: Zhangjiang Microelectronics Development Zone with a planned area of 22 square kilometers in Pudong and three times the size of Hsinchu Industrial Park in Taiwan .


In Jiang Shangzhou's view:


The capabilities of the Chinese in the semiconductor industry are among the best in the world, and Shanghai is the most favored mainland city by international capital. It has a solid industrial foundation. As long as you open your arms, you will surely surpass Taiwan, China in the future.


However, semiconductor is a money-burning industry. It is difficult to rely on Shanghai alone, and it is necessary to seek industrial support from the state.


Therefore, from July to October of that year, Jiang Shangzhou and overseas expert Ma Qiyuan had frequent phone calls to discuss the grand plan of revitalizing China's semiconductor industry.


With the efforts of a group of scholars and officials represented by them, in June 2000, the State Council issued Document No. 18, which for the first time formulated policies to revitalize the semiconductor industry and implemented tax incentives for related enterprises.


Document No. 18 set off a wave of overseas Chinese returning to China and investing in the domestic semiconductor industry, including Zhang Rujing.


In 2000, Zhang Rujing, who was forced to give up Shida Semiconductor and left Taiwan, planned to go to the other side to find the second spring of her career. He looked for a total of three cities: Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.


In Hong Kong, he was frustrated by the land issue, and in Beijing, he was accompanied by only one person who could not make a decision. In Shanghai, not only did the major leaders make decisions on the spot, but Mayor Xu Kuangdi also personally took him to inspect Pudong and said:


"The land in Zhangjiang, you can do whatever you want."


In the end, SMIC was located in Zhangjiang.


For Shanghai at that time, SMIC was a banner. A year ago, the municipal government just decided to: focus on Zhangjiang and develop the integrated circuit industry.


And SMIC has not lived up to the expectations of Shanghai decision-makers.


Due to the introduction of international capital, SMIC successfully avoided the fate of being embargoed by Western technology like Wuxi Huajing (908 Project) and Shanghai Huahong (909 Project).


Coupled with Zhang Rujing's personal ability, an 8-inch factory was built in 13 months, setting a record for the fastest factory building in the world at that time. And then 3, 5...


In just five years, SMIC has jumped to the third place in the world, and has narrowed the gap between China's semiconductors and the world's advanced level from the third generation to the first generation.


Although SMIC is singing all the way, but under the fierce international competition, Shanghai's road to core manufacturing is not destined to be smooth.



 


The difficulty of core making is not in a certain product, but in the entire industry chain.


Although SMIC has solved the problem of chip manufacturing, it is difficult to form an industrial cluster effect from design to packaging and testing, and then from materials to production equipment.


And this, from the very beginning, has been the focus of decision-making in Shanghai.


In order to attract more overseas Chinese to focus on Zhangjiang, in February 2001, Jiang Yiren, then deputy mayor of Shanghai, and Jiang Shangzhou, deputy director of the Economic Commission, led a delegation to visit Silicon Valley, where they organized the Shanghai Information Industry Symposium.


 


The event caused a huge response in Silicon Valley, and more than 300 people were crowded into the original 100-person conference hall.


At the meeting, Jiang Shangzhou was full of passion, depicting the ambition of Shanghai's integrated circuit industry development, infecting everyone present. Many of them sold their houses abroad shortly after the meeting and returned to China to start businesses.


Not only that, before and after the meeting, a large number of Chinese elites in the semiconductor industry, including Wu Ping, Yin Zhiyao, and Zhu Yiming, settled in Zhangjiang with the efforts of the Shanghai Municipal Government.


They have successively founded companies such as Spreadtrum, China Micro Semiconductor, and Zhaoyi Innovation.


The Shanghai government's emphasis on the semiconductor industry is the reason why they chose Shanghai and Zhangjiang. In Zhang Rujing's eyes, Shanghai has fast decision-making and high efficiency, while Wuping sees Shanghai's understanding of high technology.


They were also impressed by the local officials' thirst for talent and their dedication to work.


At a semiconductor equipment exhibition in Shanghai, Jiang Shangzhou met Yin Zhiyao, who was in charge of plasma etching equipment at Applied Materials in the United States.


At that time, Jiang Shangzhou unfortunately suffered from cancer due to overwork, but he tried his best to persuade him to return to China to start a business.


"It seems that building a lithography machine and a plasma etching machine is more complicated than building an atomic bomb. Foreign companies use it to pinch the neck of our integrated circuit industry. Can we build it ourselves?"


Yin Zhiyao was over sixty years old at the time, and was a little hesitant. At this time, Jiang Shangzhou continued:


"I'm a cancer patient and I only have half my life left. Even if I give up my life, I want to build this lithography machine and plasma etching machine for the country. Let's do it together."


In the end, Yin Zhiyao was moved by Jiang Shangzhou's enthusiasm.


More difficult than the etching machine is the lithography machine, which is also the core equipment for manufacturing chips.


For a long time, this field has been monopolized by a few companies such as Nikon in Japan and ASML in the Netherlands. As long as they don't give the lithography machine, we can't make chips.


In order to conquer this fortress, Jiang Shangzhou vigorously listed the lithography machine project as a major national project of the "Tenth Five-Year Plan".


This view was eventually adopted. In 2002, under the joint promotion of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Shanghai Municipal Government, Shanghai Microelectronics was established in Zhangjiang.


Not long after the company was established, He Rongming, the general manager, took the technical team to Europe to discuss cooperation, but he was regarded as a "liar". During the inspection in Germany, a local engineer looked contemptuous:


"Even if you were given a full set of drawings, you wouldn't be able to do it."


Under such pressure, He Rongming and his colleagues struggled to get on the road. Twenty years later, Shanghai Microelectronics held up the last hope of domestic high-end lithography machines.



 


Technical difficulties can be solved by attracting talents. But the cruelty of the external environment always makes people cry.


Western developed countries have always been wary of the Chinese ambitions to enter the semiconductor industry.


The 908/909 project was aborted because of the technical embargo imposed on China by the Wassenaar Agreement. Document No. 18, which once set off a wave of overseas Chinese returning to China, was also pressured by the United States shortly after it was issued, and was eventually discounted.


The sniping from competitors is even more merciless.


In 2003, just before SMIC was singing all the way and preparing to go public, TSMC took it to court with a lawsuit on the grounds of stealing trade secrets.


The original rapid growth trend has come to an abrupt end. SMIC had to sign a settlement agreement with its opponents while struggling to catch up.


In 2009, seeing that the 45nm process is about to be put into production, when mainland China will tie the world's advanced level for the first time, TSMC once again resorted to the killer.


In November of that year, a California court ruled in favor of TSMC. Waiting for SMIC is: Founder Zhang Rujing resigned, paid 200 million US dollars, and unconditionally sold 8% of the equity to TSMC.


Zhang Rujing, who lost the case, broke down in tears while on the phone with the lawyer. At the time of the crisis, Jiang Shangzhou, who was ill and took over SMIC after struggling for two years, passed away.


The painful experience of SMIC has not extinguished the determination of Shanghai people to die for semiconductors.


In fact, from the first day of focusing on Zhangjiang, the Shanghai government had a clear understanding of the difficulties, and repeatedly instructed Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park to be patient and sit on the bench.


The semiconductor industry is a money-burning industry, and a production line can easily cost tens of billions.


But before the establishment of the big fund in 2014, the investment of the whole country in the semiconductor industry was not enough. In the words of Caixin Weekly at the time, “the annual investment is only enough to build 2 kilometers of subway”.


When a certain industry has not been favored by large funds, a local government invests so much, and it will not see returns in the short term, and it is very likely to become a big pit in political performance.


What's more terrible is that in the past 20 years when Shanghai has been fighting semiconductors, the Internet industry has emerged and swarmed all over the country.


During this period, Shanghai has experienced all kinds of difficulties and suffered all kinds of criticism. Some people questioned "why can't there be Jack Ma in Shanghai", and some people asserted that "Shanghai has been abandoned by the Internet".


In this hustle and bustle, the previous Shanghai leadership groups have always withstood the pressure and continued to support Zhangjiang's semiconductor industry according to the established plan, investing tens of billions of dollars in total.


As for Zhangjiang's assessment, from the very beginning, it is not output value or GDP, but the degree of talent aggregation, business incubation and completeness of the industrial chain.


20 years of perseverance finally brought about a perfect turn.



 


In 2018, starting from ZTE and Huawei, Chinese companies have been blocked by the United States one after another.


Suddenly, we found out that the food delivery, mobile payment, bike sharing, etc. that we were once proud of were actually building houses on other people's foundations.


At this time, when we took stock of our assets and wanted to find domestic alternatives on the basis of chips, we found that Shanghai is already the best choice for the whole country.


Because this is the region with the highest comprehensive technology level and the most complete industrial chain in the domestic integrated circuit industry.


When Samsung and TSMC monopolized the advanced process below 7 nanometers, it was SMIC that successfully mass-produced 14 nanometers, which kept our hope of continuing to catch up.


When Shin-Etsu Chemical and SUMCO covered semiconductor silicon wafers, it was Shanghai Silicon Industry (the parent company of Shanghai Xinsheng) who opened a hole for us.


When the high-end lithography machine became the biggest stumbling block in front of us, it was Shanghai Microelectronics, who shouldered the important task of conquering the 28nm lithography machine.


But even so, we still have a long way to go from the world's advanced level.


And Shanghai has never stopped.


Since Shanghai implemented the "Focus on Zhangjiang" strategy in 1999, the area of Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park has increased from 25 square kilometers to 220 square kilometers, an increase of nearly 10 times, and the name has also been changed to Zhangjiang Science City.


Two years ago in 2019, Shanghai stepped up its efforts again, established the Lingang New Area, and released a special plan for integrated circuits.


 


In the future, once the Lingang New Area is completed, it will form a dual-core drive for Shanghai's semiconductor industry together with Zhangjiang Science City, and is expected to rewrite the map of China's semiconductor industry again.


Looking at the majestic blueprint in front of us, it is hard for us to forget how many people have worked hard, even their lives, for it along the way.


61-year-old Zhang Rujing, after resigning from SMIC, was unwilling to back down. He founded Xinsheng Semiconductor in 2014, making up for the shortcomings of silicon materials for the mainland semiconductor industry.


Jiang Shangzhou, who succeeded Zhang Rujing in illness, worked day and night to save SMIC, and finally passed away.


"Shanghai Economy" recorded the tear-jerking scene of Jiang Shangzhou's last three days of life:


On June 27, 2011, Jiang Shangzhou, who was lying in Shanghai Ruijin Hospital, fell into a coma. Jiang Yiren, the former vice mayor in charge of Shanghai's industry for a long time, knew him and shouted "lithography machine" in his ear.


Jiang Shangzhou woke up immediately, but he couldn't speak because of the tube stuck in his throat, so he twisted his neck in a hurry. It was not until Jiang Yiren shouted again: "The prototype of the integrated circuit equipment is very successful", he became quiet.


But in the end, he passed away with endless regrets.


In the past 20 years, it is with the efforts of generations of local officials and entrepreneurs in Shanghai, represented by Zhang Rujing and Jiang Shangzhou, as well as thousands of engineers, that the semiconductor industry in Shanghai has become what it is today.


Years ago, Wan Gang, the then Minister of Science and Technology, recalled Jiang Shangzhou, and said: "If Shanghai hadn't made up its mind to develop chips back then, perhaps our chip imports today would have far exceeded that of oil."


Today, it seems that this evaluation is still not enough to highlight the importance of Shanghai's semiconductor industry.


In fact, in today's increasingly fierce technology war, Shanghai has almost single-handedly supported half of the sky in China's chips!





Disclaimer: This article is reproduced from "Chinese Business Strategy", this article only represents the author's personal views, not the views of Saco Micro and the industry, only for reprinting and sharing, support protection Intellectual property rights, please indicate the original source and author for reprinting. If there is any infringement, please contact us to delete it.

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