Wuhan zone has sweeping plans for semiconductors

Updated: 2013-04-03 05:31

By Hao Nan (China Daily)

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The chip design and manufacturing industry in Wuhan will get a boost from the East Lake High-tech Zone after its administrative committee recently unveiled plans to vigorously develop the industry in the coming five years, media reported.

The committee said it is confident it can turn the industry into an economic mainstay of the zone with annual output value reaching 100 billion yuan ($16.1 billion) within five years.

The high-tech zone in the Central China province of Hubei already has more than 2,000 professional chip design technicians, said Zou Xuecheng, a professor of semiconductor engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology and director of the Wuhan office of a national center for talent in the field.

"We hope it will become home to 100 Chinese chip design companies by the end of 2018, when the monthly production capacity could hit 100,000 units," he told the Chutian Metropolis Daily.

Wuhan zone has sweeping plans for semiconductors

Wuhan will then have an industry chain of chip products made with proprietary technologies, he added.

Zou also said that officials in the Wuhan East Lake High-tech Zone - also known as the Optics Valley of China - have been looking at the feasibility of semiconductor chip design and testing since 2002. Local educational and research resources have aided in the move.

Their efforts recently paid dividends.

At the world's largest industry exhibition last month - know as SEMICON China - the zone's home-developed 12-inch chip made its successful debut.

The news was inspiring, but many industry insiders expressed concerns about intellectual property and other obstacles on the road to progress, noted the newspaper.

Spokesmen for local chip manufacturers said infringement is not rare and called for stronger government regulations on patent protection.

Such chips are now so common that they are a staple of industry and a core part of almost all high-end equipment, experts say.

With the continuing transfer of global electronic device manufacturing to China in recent years, demand for chips in the country has greatly increased.

Last year, China used nearly half of the total world chip production, but 90 percent of the $165 billion in products were imported, according to Beijing S&P Information Consult Co.

The report said that Chinese companies and institutes have developed chips that meet advanced international standards, but they need greater manufacturing scale to satisfy market demand.

Analysts at the consultancy also said a "brain drain" overseas or to other cities was another hurdle to development in Wuhan.

Professor Zou suggested that the high-tech zone provide more political support for financing and investment, and focus on the development of leading companies.


(China Daily 04/03/2013 page17)