A little over a year ago, the U.S. government secured the global semiconductor supply chain through policies, grants, and collaborative research and development (R&D) projects. However, one year after the initiative was announced, countries were still unable to agree on an agenda for the preliminary meeting. financial times (opens in new tab) Potential partners report having too many concerns about the issue.
The governments of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have traditionally enjoyed good relations with the United States, and companies in these countries work closely with their U.S. partners. But South Korean companies like Samsung are unwilling to share their trade secrets with Taiwanese industry peers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC). Furthermore, South Korea is in political tension with Japan, no one supports the R&D efforts of US-based Intel and Micron, and no one is concerned about China’s reaction to the new coalition. I’m here.
Japanese companies produce large volumes of 3D NAND used in China, as well as sell a variety of high-purity raw materials to chip and LCD makers in South Korea and Taiwan. Japan is struggling to revive its semiconductor industry, so the government is luring his TSMC to Japan to build a research and development center to train scientists and engineers. However, it is doubtful that Kioxia would want to develop underlying technology with Samsung or his SK Hynix. This is because they have to share specific know-how with their rivals.
In South Korea, Samsung Foundry is concerned that technologies such as materials and transistor designs could be used by rivals TSMC and Intel. On the other hand, Samsung Memory and SK Hynix have little interest in boosting the computer memory industry in Japan and Taiwan with their research capabilities. Moreover, they are fiercely competitive with each other.
Taiwan’s logic and memory chip makers significantly outperform their mainland Chinese rivals (SMIC, Hua Hong, Yangtze Memory, etc.). Still, they source a lot of their raw materials from China, and they would barely be satisfied if the Chip 4 Alliance banned it for supply chain security reasons.
But the biggest concern for everyone seems to be China. On the one hand, Japanese companies such as Tokyo Electron and Nikon sell large amounts of tools used in chip manufacturing to China. Partnering with the US to develop next-generation chip-making technology could hurt their business (because the US wants to limit exports of major chip-making equipment to the rest of the world). ). Samsung and SK Hynix, on the other hand, have fairly advanced memory fabs in China. They are concerned whether potential next-generation process technologies that rely on jointly researched fundamental breakthroughs can be applied in these fabs.
“Our stance is that for the Chip4 Alliance, [the South Korean government] We need to ask China for understanding first, and then negotiate with the United States,” said Kye Hyun Kyung, head of the Samsung Electronics Device Solutions Division, which oversees the global operations of the memory, system LSI, and foundry business units. said in an interview with the Financial Times. We are not trying to exploit the US-China conflict, we are trying to find a win-win solution. ”
In general, setting a few ground rules for supply chains, specific policies for investments, subsidies for manufacturers, and joint R&D projects may make sense on paper, but in practice chips Manufacturers may not be as interested in this as the US government. At least for now.