Tech Power Play: How ‘Chiplets’ Shape China’s Ambitious Chip Warfare

by / ⠀Featured News / July 13, 2023
Tech Power Play: How 'Chiplets' Shape China's Ambitious Chip Warfare

Innovative thinkers who aren’t afraid to take chances and challenge the status quo are key to the future of the defense industry. Chiplets have emerged as a crucial technology to accomplish China’s ambitious pursuit of technological self-reliance in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Small semiconductors called chiplets are combined to create a potent unit that can power anything from home appliances to data centers. The growth of chiplets in China’s ambitious chip battle is examined in this article along with its effects on the global semiconductor market.

What are Chiplets?

Small, modular semiconductors called chiplets can be linked together to form more potent systems. They are combined via a procedure known as advanced packing and can range in size from a sand grain to a thumbnail. In “three to four months, this is the unique advantage China holds,” according to Yang Meng, the chairman of Chipuller, a startup in China’s southern tech capital Shenzhen, chiplets may be customized to the demands of the user.

The Push for Chiplets in China

The push for chiplet technology in China began around two years ago, at the same time that the country’s increased emphasis on technological independence in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Chiplet technology has become even more crucial to the nation’s ambitions as a result of increased barriers to accessing the sophisticated equipment and resources required to produce cutting-edge chips. China can develop 3D stacking and similar chiplet tech by using the chip tech to get around these prohibitions. Chiplets have a very specific significance for China, according to Charles Shi, a chip analyst with brokerage Needham, given the country’s limits on wafer fabrication machinery.

Chiplets in China’s Tech Sector

As more organizations, including tech giant Huawei Technologies and military institutions, explore their application, chiplets have grown in significance in China’s technology industry. According to the director of analytics solutions at Anaqua, Shayne Phillips, Huawei, China’s chip design and tech behemoth, has been recently seeking out chiplet patents, with over 900 chiplet-related patent applications and granted in China last year, up from 30 in 2017. In order to meet domestic demand for cutting-edge packaging options like chiplets, dozens of tiny businesses have popped up all over China in recent years.

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The Chiplet Advantage of China

Dongguan Securities claims that China already holds a sizable portion of the worldwide chip packaging and testing business, accounting for nearly a quarter of the market. Although some claim that China now has a competitive advantage in using chiplet technology, Chipuller chairman Yang cautioned that the amount of China’s packaging sector that could be deemed advanced was “not very big.” But under the appropriate circumstances, chiplets that are customized to the customer’s specifications can be finished fast, providing China a distinct advantage.

Chiplets Investment from China

China has made a sizable investment in chiplet technology, with millions of dollars in grants awarded to researchers with a focus on the technology and dozens of announcements from companies across China’s tech sector about the construction of new factories or the expansion of existing ones. Over 40 billion yuan have been invested through these investments. In a May article, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT) pushed large Chinese technology corporations to work with domestic packaging enterprises like TongFu to help the country become self-sufficient in computing power.

China-US Tensions and Chiplets

The purchase of zGlue’s patents by Chipuller demonstrates the potential for conflicts between the United States and China in the chiplet technology industry. While the sale of zGlue’s patents in 2021 was uneventful, 13 months later, Chipuller’s patent portfolio contained the technology that zGlue had developed to speed up and reduce the cost of chip manufacturing. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a powerful legislator whose China committee has lobbied that the Biden administration to adopt harder measures toward China, emphasized the “urgent need to reform CFIUS” in response to zGlue’s case. If such sales need their permission, CFIUS (The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) has not responded to Reuters’ request for comment.

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The Prospects for Chiplets

Major firms like Apple, Intel, and AMD use chiplet technology in their products, which has led to chiplets becoming more and more significant in the worldwide semiconductor business. China’s investments in chiplet technology and its drive for technological independence are poised to challenge the technological dominance of the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The rise of chiplets in China’s ambitious chip warfare has the potential to disrupt the global semiconductor industry.

Conclusion

In China’s effort for technological independence in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, this tech has become a key technology. Others warn that the fraction of China’s packaging business that may be regarded as advanced is not very large, despite others claiming that China’s sizeable share of the worldwide chip packaging and testing market offers it an advantage in utilizing chipl technology. But under the appropriate circumstances, chips that are customized to the customer’s specifications can be finished fast, providing China a distinct advantage. China’s investments in chiplet technology and its drive for technological independence are poised to challenge the technological dominance of the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The rise of these chips in China’s ambitious chip warfare has the potential to disrupt the global semiconductor industry.

FAQ

How do chiplets work?

Small, modular semiconductors called chiplets can be linked together to form more potent systems.

Why are chiplets crucial to China’s efforts to achieve technological independence?

Chiplet technology has become even more crucial to China’s goals as a result of the country’s increasing access challenges to cutting-edge equipment and resources. China can develop 3D stacking or other chiplet technologies by using chiplets to get around these prohibitions.

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How much money does China invest in chiplet technology?

China has made a sizable investment in chip technology, with millions of dollars in grants awarded to researchers with a focus on the technology and dozens of announcements from companies across China’s tech sector about the construction of new factories or the expansion of existing ones. Over 40 billion yuan have been invested through these investments.

How does the purchase of zGlue’s patents by Chipuller highlight the potential for conflicts between the United States and China in the chiplet technology industry?

The purchase of zGlue’s patents by Chipuller demonstrates the potential for conflicts between the United States and China in the chip technology industry. While the sale of zGlue’s patents in 2021 was uneventful, 13 months later, Chipuller’s patent portfolio contained the technology that zGlue had developed to speed up and reduce the cost of chip manufacturing. In reaction to the zGlue case, Representative Mike Gallagher emphasized the “urgent need to reform CFIUS”.

First reported on Reuters

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Joe Rothwell
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