Wednesday, June 10, 2020
The U.S. has issued a new set of trade rules that hamper American-made semiconductor equipment sales to China. As a result, telecom and networking giant Huawei Technologies reportedly is trying to persuade Samsung and TSMC to build an advanced production line that does not use U.S. equipment.
Under the latest trade regulation, fabless semiconductor companies are worried they will be the next target of sanctions by the United States.
TSMC should strongly support non-U.S. semiconductor material and equipment suppliers, according to industry analyst Lu Xingzhi. However, TSMC – which announced it would build a fab in the U.S. – seems hesitant to act on Huawei’s request.
Samsung seems to be more active in this regard. Media reports say Samsung has cooperated with equipment manufacturers in Japan and Europe to build a small, 7nm production line that doesn’t use U.S. equipment. Samsung hopes to actively attract multiple customers through this move.
Is it really possible to build a chip production line without American equipment? Let’s analyze reporting from EE Times.
According to SEMI, the top five equipment manufacturers in the world represent 65% of the global market. These companies carry capital, technology, customer resource and brand advantages. Among them, America’s Applied Materials ranked first with a market share of 17.7%; Lam Research ranked fourth with a 13.4% market share and KLA-Tencor, with 5.19%, ranked fifth. Collectively, the three companies represent 36.31% of the global semiconductor equipment market.
In lithography, ASML has an oligopoly on equipment. Applied Materials, Tokyo Electronics and Pan Lin Group are leaders in plasma-etching and thin-film-deposition machinery. KLA is a leading enterprise in testing equipment.
At the beginning of the semiconductor manufacturing process, monocrystalline silicon wafers are turned into chips. This procedure requires oxidation, coating, photolithography, etching, ion implantation, physical vapor deposition, chemical vapor deposition, polishing, wafer inspection and cleaning. Back-end processes include packaging and testing, backside thinning, wafer cutting, patching, wire bonding, molding, cutting tendon/forming, and final testing.
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