Business / Technology

Wuhan blazes trail in IC memory output

By Yang Ziman and Du Xiaoying (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-05 10:11

The country's first integrated circuit memory manufacturing hub, launched in Wuhan, Hubei province, is expected to produce 300,000 chips by 2020, with the figure set to reach 1 million by 2030.

The manufacturing base, headquartered in the city's Optics Valley Smart Industrial Park, involves total investment of $24 billion.

It will focus on chip manufacturing, with other businesses including memory-chip designing, research and development, wafer production and testing.

Wei Shaojun, director of the department of microelectronics of Tsinghua University, said that China imports more than $50 billion worth of integrated circuit memory-related products every year. The country is the only global economic powerhouse that does not produce its own integrated circuit memory devices.

"It is very encouraging that the Chinese government has raised the importance of integrated circuit memory production to a strategic development level. It is of critical importance that China can produce them independently," said Wei.

The Optics Valley Smart Industrial Park accommodates large-scale screen manufacturers such as Tianma Micro-electronics Co Ltd, a display provider listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co Ltd. Also located in the park include intelligent terminal companies such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Lenovo Group Ltd and Foxconn Technology Co. The park is expected to be one of the top electronic information industrial bases in China.

"Integrated circuit memory technology concerns national security. Though China is at the very start in the development of the industry, the opportunities are abundant in the market," said Yang Shining, chief executive officer of XMC, a Wuhan-based 300-millimeter semiconductor manufacturing company, a major player in the construction of the memory base.

In 2006, Hubei province, Wuhan and the Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone invested 10 billion yuan ($6.5 billion) into a 12-inch wafer production of XMC. XMC has become the only integrated circuit memory manufacturer in China that is focusing on producing memory.

According to Chen Shaomin, executive vice-president of XMC, the $24 billion investment will be used in technological, chip and system research, infrastructure construction and equipment development.

"By the time the monthly output reaches 300,000, the number of employees in the memory base will be 17,000, creating a lot of job opportunities as the industrial chain grows," said Chen.

In 2014, the government formulated a national plan for the development of the integrated circuit industry for the next 10 years. It set the goal that by 2020, the average annual revenue growth rate in the industry would surpass 20 percent and by 2030 the major links in the industrial chain would reach the top global level.

In 2015, the market value of global integrated circuit memory sector stood at $83.5 billion, accounting for 25 percent of the global integrated circuit industry. The memory industry has grown by about 10 percent annually in the past years.

According to China Electronics News, the market value of China's integrated circuit industry in 2015 reached a record of 1.1 trillion yuan, up 6.1 percent year-on-year. Rapid developments in vehicles' electronic systems, industrial control systems and communication devices were the main contributors to the growth of China's integrated circuit market last year, said China Electronics News.

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