The aftereffects caused by Huawei smartphones… Are ‘Korean semiconductors’ becoming shrimp again?

As China’s Huawei launches smartphones equipped with high-performance chips, the semiconductor conflict between the US and China is heating up. The Chinese government has broadened its response front with the ‘iPhone ban’, and voices in the United States are growing that calls for further strengthening of technology sanctions against China. There are concerns that the domestic semiconductor industry may once again suffer from the strong fallout of the US-China conflict.

■ How did SK Hynix’s chip end up in Huawei’s case? It is still unclear how SK Hynix’s memory chip was used

in the smartphone released by Huawei at the end of last month . According to the semiconductor industry and foreign media on the 8th, the memory chips installed in Huawei’s smartphone ‘Mate 60 Pro’ are low-power double data rate 5 ( LPDDR5 ) DRAM and Universal Flash Storage ( UFS ) NAND flash. It is a general-purpose memory with a completely different nature from the ‘7 nanometer (㎚ · 1 ㎚ is 1 billionth of a meter) processor’ chipset, which has attracted the world’s attention. SK Hynix’s position is that it has “no history of doing business with Huawei” since the U.S. strengthened export regulations in May 2020. There are various observations in the industry about the ‘leakage route’. First of all, it is possible that Huawei has secured memory volume in advance. Memory in question ( LPDDR5

) is a general-purpose product, so it is possible that Huawei has built up sufficient inventory of parts before US sanctions are strengthened in all directions. There is also the possibility of distribution through an intermediate supply chain. China’s general-purpose memory semiconductor supply chain is complexly intertwined. This means that if the volume was not traded directly with the manufacturer, it would have flowed to Huawei through a middleman distribution network. An official in the semiconductor industry said, “Unlike custom-made non-memory chipsets, DRAM is a standardized, general-purpose product, so it is not impossible to procure the quantity through middlemen with large inventory.” However, another industry official gave a mixed response, saying, “It is not easy to procure large quantities of tens of millions of units, which are not prototypes, through channels other than official transactions.”

SK Hynix maintains that it does not know how its memory chips were installed, but it was put in an awkward position as it was highlighted as the first case of breaking through the US sanctions network. On this day, SK Hynix’s stock price plummeted 4.05%.

■ ‘7nm processor’ ‘shock’ to China’s technological prowess

The semiconductor industry is paying attention to the fact that Huawei is equipped with a 7nm (nanometer · 1 billionth of a meter) process processor, which requires advanced semiconductor equipment amid the United States’ high-strength sanctions. This is because the company has released a product that far exceeds the current U.S. Department of Commerce’s export control standards for semiconductor equipment to China (14 nm to 16 nm). In the industry, Huawei uses deep ultraviolet ( DUV ) equipment rather than extreme ultraviolet ( EUV ) advanced equipment.) It is believed that there is a high possibility that old equipment was used. Tech Insights, which disassembled and analyzed the Huawei phone, said, “It appears that the deep ultraviolet ray equipment was bypassed by repeating the circuit several times to engrave it. “Although yield (percentage of normal products) and cost competitiveness will be low, it is worth noting that 7-nano processors can be manufactured without cutting-edge equipment,” he said.

Kang Hyo-joo, a researcher at KB Securities, said, “Huawei has been included in the U.S. export control list and has been subject to much stronger export regulations than the export regulations for the semiconductor industry as a whole.” He added, “The mass production of 7-nano products is interpreted as a sign that China has made rapid technological progress. ” “You can do it,” he said.

U.S. authorities are still cautious. The attitude is that it is still not accurate that China developed 7-nano products entirely on its own. “We will have a clearer picture of what we are looking at,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at a press briefing on the 7th (local time). “We will do so in the context of a holistic approach rather than a specific smartphone.” “It is,” he said.

■ Sparks erupt at Chinese semiconductor factories again, and

voices are growing, especially in the U.S. Congress, calling for stronger sanctions, saying, “Regulations on popular technology have been neutralized.” In addition, since China has even taken out the card of banning the iPhone of Apple, a representative American company, the level of conflict between the two countries is likely to increase further. Researcher Kang said, “As a result, the severity of sanctions may increase given that China has neutralized some of the U.S. semiconductor regulations.”

There are concerns in the semiconductor industry that we may once again face the fallout from the competition for technological hegemony between the US and China. Immediately after China’s iPhone ban, the stock prices of domestic companies that supply parts to Apple have already fallen significantly due to concerns about poor performance. The biggest issue is whether Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix will be allowed to bring cutting-edge equipment into their Chinese semiconductor factories. The U.S. government announced regulations banning the import of advanced semiconductor equipment into China in October last year, and Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix received a one-year grace period. The grace period expires 메이저놀이터on the 11th of next month, and the U.S. government must decide again whether to extend it. The Korean government and industry had predicted that there was a high possibility of an extension, but we were faced with unexpected bad news right before the decision on whether to postpone it. There are also concerns that even if the grace period is extended, the standards for bringing in equipment may become more stringent. An official from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, “The issue of importing semiconductor equipment is an issue that has been discussed with the United States for a long time, and we believe it is unrelated to the Huawei issue.”

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