Struggling, Huawei invests in the core areas of lithography machines!

Recently, Hubble Technology Investment Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Huawei, has invested in Beijing Keyi Hongyuan Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. The latter's main business involves the core technology of lithography machines, which means that Huawei has begun to formally deploy the field of lithography machines.

Specifically, the registered capital of Beijing Keyi Hongyuan Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. increased from 120 million yuan to 2016 million yuan, an increase of 68%. Among them, Hubble Investment holds 4.7619%, becoming the seventh-largest shareholder.

Secret and great

In recent years, under the continuous suppression of the United States, the plight of "lack of cores and fewer souls" in China has intensified, and the huge impact it has caused on national enterprises represented by Huawei is obvious to all. Fortunately, in the field of operating systems, Huawei has released HarmonyOS for all-smart scenarios and is committed to creating a "universal system" for the Internet of Everything; in the field of chips, Huawei HiSilicon has a top domestic chip design team, but it is limited by domestic chips. With the backward manufacturing industry, Huawei's mobile phone business has suffered severely.

In the past two years, Huawei has "struggled" but has never stopped saving itself. In 2019, it formally established Hubble Technology Investment Co., Ltd. to provide investment services. As of the end of last year, Hubble Technology has successively invested in 25 companies including Shandong Tianyue, Dongwei Semiconductor, Tianke Heda, Siripu, Dongxin Semiconductor, and Siteway, covering EDA, semiconductor materials, third It is not difficult to see Huawei’s determination to get rid of the "stuck neck" in various fields such as generation of semiconductors, semiconductor wafer-level substrates, analog chips, optoelectronic chips, and CMOS image sensors.

In 2021, Hubble Technology has successively invested in Feipu Electronics, which is engaged in the development of independent research and development of electronic design automation (EDA) software and is committed to the independent research and development and application of high-end simulation technology. The technology manufacturing industry provides up-surge software for overall solutions, and Yunyinggu Technology is engaged in the production and sales of display driver chips/circuit boards.

It is worth mentioning that on May 31, Hubble Technology has undergone industrial and commercial changes, and the company's registered capital increased from 2.7 billion yuan to 3 billion yuan, an increase of about 11.11%. According to the company's information, Hubble Technology currently has 38 foreign investment companies, and its investment areas include analog chips, silicon carbide materials, power chips, artificial intelligence chips, in-vehicle communication chips, connectors, etc., and the latest shares Keyi Hongyuan will undoubtedly further complement the chip ecological industry chain invested by Hubble.

The main business of Keyi Hongyuan is the light source system, which is one of the three core technologies in the lithography machine. It is the first domestic and third-largest 193nm ArF excimer laser company in the world. Key Hongyuan was established in July 2016 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Optoelectronics Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Microelectronics, Beijing Yizhuang International Investment Co., Ltd., and Chinese Academy of Sciences State-owned Assets Management Co., Ltd., with a registered capital of 120 million yuan.

In 2018, the first domestic high-energy excimer laser independently designed and developed by Keyi Hongyuan was shipped, breaking the long-term monopoly of foreign manufacturers and becoming the domestic industry leader in one fell swoop. However, wearing the aura of "first in the country and third in the world", the name of Keyi Hongyuan is not well known to the public. A large part of the reason is that its field is too professional. In addition, if it were not for the serious impact caused by this "chip supply cut", most Chinese people would probably not know the huge gap between the domestic chip manufacturing process and foreign technology, and naturally, they would know very little about the lithography machine.

A benchmark for measuring technological R&D and industrial levels Previously, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei mentioned that the difficulty Huawei encountered was the advanced chips they designed, and the domestic basic industries could not make them. As we all know, advanced technology is one of the weakest links in domestic chips. Among the hundreds of processes in chip manufacturing, photolithography directly defines the size of the transistor and determines the accuracy of the chip. It is one of the most important steps, and its cost accounts for the entire chip. 30% of the manufacturing cost, some people even call it "a benchmark for measuring technological R&D and industrial levels."

However, the manufacturing of the lithography machine required for the lithography step has stepped on our pain points. In the global lithography machine market, ASML's monopoly is undoubted, Nikon, Canon, and other companies have also divided up the remaining market share. According to the latest news, the exposure system of the EXE:5000 lithography machine with an ASML aperture of 0.55 has been designed and can be officially shipped in 2022. The EXE:5000 lithography machine can be used for mass production of 2nm process chips, and even 1nm and below.

On the other hand, domestic lithography machines are in a relatively backward position. At present, Shanghai Microelectronics can only manufacture 90nm low-end lithography machines, which is far from the EUV high-end lithography machines and DUV mid-end lithography machines manufactured by ASML. Facing the status quo of domestic lithography machines, Peking University professor Lin Yifu believes that if the Dutch ASML company did not sell the lithography machine to domestic companies, my country can fully master this technology in about three years. Once domestic companies have mastered this technology, then The manufacturing cost of the lithography machine will be lower than that of foreign companies, and the Dutch ASML can only leave the market.

Many netizens think that Professor Lin Yifu is too optimistic, but the author believes that his self-confidence is not groundless. Although the EUV lithography machine is the most advanced technology at present, the DUV, which is already the "previous generation", is actually the main force in wafer manufacturing. Whether it is image sensors, power ICs, MEMS, analog ICs, or logic ICs, there is nothing behind it. There is a figure. The biggest difference between DUV and EUV is the light source. EUV has a light source wavelength of 13.5nm, and the most advanced DUV has a light source wave of 193nm, using ArF light source.

It is worth mentioning that my country has frequently reported good news in the DUV field. In the past, Keyi Hongyuan broke the foreign monopoly of 193nm ArF laser, and later, Nanda Optoelectronics made breakthrough progress in 193nm photoresist technology. Nanda Optoelectronics recently issued an announcement stating that the ArF photoresist independently developed by its holding subsidiary Ningbo Nanda Optoelectronics has passed the certification on a 50nm flash memory platform of a memory chip manufacturer in December 2020 and has recently become a logic chip manufacturer 55nm Certification breakthroughs have been made on the products of the technology node, indicating that the company's photoresist products have met the process requirements for the metal wiring layer of the 55nm platform.

The photoresist is mainly used to protect the built-in lines of the chip and reduce the exposed external corrosion of the circuit. The photoresist is applied on the surface of the silicon-based chip, and the liquid is formed under the projection of extreme ultraviolet light. The effective projection area and the cleaning process directly determine the yield of the final chip, and the uniformity of the photoresist application also directly determines the final chip. Performance, currently the most widely used photoresists are Krf and Arf, which are mainly used in advanced chip manufacturing processes.

More importantly, the ArF photoresist market is monopolized by the United States and Japan all year round. In May of this year, "Shin-Etsu Chemical", a Japanese company, announced that it would no longer sell KrF photoresist to Chinese semiconductor companies on the grounds of insufficient production capacity. Today, when the domestic EUV lithography technology is still immature, ArF is still the mainstream, so our various breakthroughs in 193nm ArF lithography technology are of great significance.

Write at the end

Initially, Huawei started from HiSilicon. After nearly ten years, its mobile phone chips have gradually gained consumer recognition and reached an international leading position. Before Huawei's 5G technology became famous, my country has also been unknown in the global communications field.

In the face of monopoly and sanctions, Huawei and the domestic semiconductor industry are not only encountering challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities. Although the domestic replacement of the semiconductor industry is hindered and long, my country has long been different from the past in terms of scientific research technology, industrial manufacturing, and talent reserves. Under heavy pressure, with rounds of technical blockades, domestic lithography machines Technology has made great progress, and I believe that autonomy and control are no longer empty talks!