The United States officially launched the EDA ban, where will Chinese semiconductors go?
On August 12, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued an Interim final rule as the corresponding part of the Commerce Control List (CCL) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), In order to realize the control of four aspects, respectively two kinds of ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor substrates – gallium oxide and diamond, electronic computer-aided design software EDA (ECAD) necessary for GAAFE structure integrated circuits, for the production and development of gas turbines Pressure Gain Combustion (PGC) technology for engine components or systems.
interim final ruleA rule issued by a federal agency that takes effect upon publication without first seeking public comment on the substance of the rule, generally used in emergencies and other needs, and can help expedite the regulatory process so that binding regulatory requirements can be quickly implemented , it is ultimately up to the court to determine whether the interim final rule is reasonable, and an unfavorable ruling could allow the agency to restart the regulatory process.
Although China was not named this time, as far as the U.S. ban on semiconductors is concerned, there is no doubt that my country has become the primary target.
On August 15, the rule officially took effect, which means that the United States has further increased its control in the semiconductor field.
However, the ban on the EDA will be delayed for 60 days, with a specific effective date of October 14, 2022, of which 30 days are for comments. Currently, the US BIS is soliciting public and industry input to determine which EDA characteristics are particularly suitable for designing GAAFETs for further regulation.
EDA(electronic Design automation (electronic Design Automation) is the key software for integrated circuit design. It was once called “the jewel in the semiconductor crown” and can be used to assist in the design, manufacture, packaging, and testing of VLSI chips. All aspects of integrated circuits are constructed by the three American EDA giants, Cadence, Synopsys (Synopsys), Siemens (Siemens) and other companies. These three companies have a share of nearly 80% in my country’s EDA market.
New U.S. rules limit the EDA software necessary for GAAFET-architecture integrated circuits, meaning restrictions on high-end chip designs.
GAAFET(Gate-All-Around FET, all-around gate transistor) is widely considered to be the successor to the fin field effect transistor (FinFET), which has been the mainstream structure of semiconductor devices for the past ten years. In June this year, Samsung announced that it was the first to mass-produce a 3nm process based on GAAFET technology, and TSMC has not yet introduced it.
The U.S. Department of Commerce stated that GAAFET is a key technology node for chip manufacturing to break through 3nm and below. Thea D. Rozman Kendler, assistant secretary of commerce for export management, said, “We are implementing controls through a multilateral system to protect the four technologies identified in the rules from exempt. Used in bad faith, this rule demonstrates our commitment to working with our international partners to enforce export controls.”
It can be seen that the United States has set up roadblocks in the advanced semiconductor process, pre-blocking the semiconductor technology breakthroughs that other countries may achieve, mainly to squeeze China out of the next generation of semiconductor competition.
In fact, as early as the beginning of this month, a source revealed that the US Department of Commerce will issue new rules to restrict the export of EDA software to China. Now, with the implementation of the US chip bill and a series of semiconductor bans, the EDA ban has also been officially proposed.
At present, my country’s chip manufacturers mainly stay at the 5nm and 7nm process levels, and there is still a long way to go to the 2nm and 3nm processes. The response to this ban may not be particularly obvious, but it is still not acceptable to limit the potential threats brought by EDA tools. Neglect is related to the future of China’s semiconductor industry.
This makes people have to focus on the level of EDA localization.
Data from CCID think tank shows that from 2018 to 2020, the revenue share of my country’s local EDA software has increased from 6% to 11%, a certain degree of progress has been made. Far from it.
Moreover, relevant domestic manufacturers are mainly scattered in subdivisions and cannot cover the entire EDA industry chain, and most of them use point tools as their products, and there is still a long way to go before industrialization. The breakthrough of 3nm and below process technology will take a certain amount of time for every company.
However, even if there is a long way to go, it is still necessary to move forward. After all, this semiconductor war cannot allow anyone to retreat.
I just don’t know which one will be easier to develop EDA or to manufacture lithography machines.
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