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      Volume 2, Issue 2

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China: a Global IC Opportunity


As China’s IC market is poised for further growth, Howard Ko, Synopsys Vice President of Asia Pacific Sales, explains how the transition to 65nm process technologies invites an international approach to IC development in China.

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More than 200 representatives from leading electronics and trade organizations gathered at a recent symposium held at the Pudong International Convention Center in Shanghai, China. The delegates used the event to share their experiences of recent developments in the electronics and communications sectors, and to consider the overall outlook for the industry.

The symposium was jointly organized by DigiTimes, Taipei Electronic Component Suppliers’ Association, and Shanghai Nanhui District Foreign Economic Relations Commission.

In his address to the audience, Howard Ko outlined the strengthening position of China’s IC market and cited design for manufacturability (DFM) as an initiative that is critical to the continued growth of the IC design industry, and a discipline that requires collaboration, especially with the transition to advanced 90nm and 65nm processes.

China Targets 40 percent of Global IC Market by 2010
The global semiconductor market slowdown in 2005 did not affect China’s IC industry. In fact China maintained the world’s highest growth rate, almost 30 percent higher than growth in 2004. China’s determination to succeed in IC design is driven by escalating domestic demand for consumer electronics. Consumers in China are eager to own the latest products such as 3G cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, digital TV, IC cards and so on.

The Chinese government’s policy of prioritizing systematic support for the semiconductor industry by implementing a sequential five year planning process has paid dividends. Now into the 11th five-year plan, the growth and global competitiveness of China’s IC industry is expected to become even stronger. In addition to the significant progress in IC design and silicon intellectual property, the region’s manufacturing capability is expected to become world class, enabling China to become a major base for chip manufacture and IC product research and development in Asia Pacific. By 2010 China is expected to have a global IC market share of 39 percent, as the region’s position in the global IC market continues to strengthen.

The Yangtze River Delta is the most important IT industry base in China, as around one third of electronics and information technology products are made here. This area is established as the most important technology cluster for China’s IC industry. International-class IC design companies, as well as China’s leading semiconductor testing and packaging companies all have a presence here. A number of wafer foundries are also established in this area including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, Hejian Technology Company, and Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation. In 2005, the IC industry output from companies in the Yangtze River Delta amounted to more than RMB$42 billion.

Incubating Advanced Chip Design
Another innovation to assist the development of the IC industry in Mainland China is the formation of national IC Design Incubation Centers (ICC). These centers concentrate resources for the design of advanced chips or chips that target specific functions. Over the past three years, eight national ICC have successfully completed the tapeout of just under 800 chip projects.

In the future, ICC will become more focused on the broader needs of the IC industry. In addition to IC design, the semiconductor industry ecosystem is becoming increasingly whole in Mainland China because of the momentum from wafer foundry, semiconductor testing and packaging, motherboard, and LCD panel manufacturing operations within the region.

The Global Opportunity
The trend towards broadening expertise from design to manufacture, test and packaging, provides new opportunities for companies across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwanese chip companies, especially within manufacturing, have enjoyed a successful relationship with Mainland China which spans some 15 years.

Such an international collaborative approach depends on a proven business model that has served segments such as the mobile device market very well in other regions of the world. For example, mobile handset manufacturers in different countries successfully assemble the best IP, chip design and manufacturing expertise to rapidly develop a succession of new products.

Continuing this mutually beneficial partnership can help China address the new technology challenges that come with the transition to 65nm design. As well as meeting new technical challenges, the region must continue to address the key business issues including the reduction of product development costs, managing the risks associated with complex product design, as well as shortening time-to-market.

New 65nm Technology Challenges
Designers of a typical 250nm chip, consisting of an average 7.5 million gates, are typically concerned with optimizing timing and area. At 180nm, the average gate count rises to 42 million gates and designers face timing closure issues. At 130nm and 55 million gates, signal integrity is added to the list of implementation issues that must be addressed.

With the advent of the advanced 90nm and 65nm processes for IC design, semiconductor process variation is much more of an issue, and leakage current dominates the power budget.

Tackling the physical design and low power issues at 90nm and below – even process variation problems – cannot be left to the manufacturing partner alone. Manufacturing issues must be factored in at the onset of design, and this is the core concept of DFM.

The IC design flow must transition from design closure to manufacturing closure. DFM, integrated into design practice, uses a new breed of EDA tools to improve yield and shorten time to market for IC manufacturing.

Synopsys' Role
Synopsys works across a broad range of companies, from foundries and integrated device manufacturers to fabless design companies and system companies, both within China and across the rest of Asia Pacific Region. With the convergence of design and manufacturing, Synopsys’ products and services enable these companies to share their design and manufacturing data and successfully collaborate on the most advanced IC projects.

Synopsys is leading the DFM transition with innovative products that enable mask synthesis, mask data preparation, TCAD, lithography verification and manufacturing yield management. These solutions ensure that designs are manufacturable at 90nm nodes and smaller, and are increasingly deployed at customer sites on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

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©2010 Synopsys, Inc. Synopsys and the Synopsys logo are registered trademarks of Synopsys, Inc. All other company and product names mentioned herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and should be treated as such.

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About Howard Ko
Dr. Howard Ko is vice president of Asia Pacific Sales at Synopsys. He received his Ph.D in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from UC Berkeley, and graduated with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the National Taiwan University.
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"By 2010 China is expected to have a global IC market share of 39 percent."