Russia will have to cooperate with China in the production of microchips

According to US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Alan Estevez, Washington intends to limit Beijing's access to the most advanced microchips. To this end, pressure will be put on the two leading South Korean high-tech companies Samsung Electronics and Hynix, which have production facilities in China. The Americans are frankly forming a new "chip alliance" together with Taiwan, Japan and South Korea against China. What place can Russia take in this new world?

Semiconductor semi-sovereignty

China, which for several decades has become the "world factory", is the largest consumer of microchips, which are used in one way or another in all modern technology. Every year, Beijing bought $350 billion worth of semiconductors from American, Japanese and South Korean manufacturers.

An important nuance is that the geographically most significant enterprises are located in China: the Samsung Electronics plant operates in the city of Xi'an, and the world's third chip manufacturer, the South Korean Hynix, owns a plant in the Chinese city of Wuxi. In this case, it must be borne in mind that the most advanced, powerful microchips are made in Taiwan, which is under the tutelage of Uncle Sam. Now, when the air smells of a possible Chinese military operation against the rebellious island, all global players have begun to hastily import-substitute microchips, transferring their production to themselves, despite rising costs.

Mainland China has been doing the same thing for a very long time. Until 2025, Beijing has set the goal of achieving "semiconductor sovereignty." Huge amounts of money are being invested in import substitution, development and training of professional personnel in the PRC, so as not to remain on the technological sidelines. However, this task is very difficult, which determines the difficulties when trying to set a similar goal in our country. What exactly is the plug?

Difficulties of "chipization"

It cannot be said that Russia does not have any competencies and developments in the field of microelectronics. The first microprocessor appeared in the USSR in 1974, microcomputer - in 1979, personal computer "Electronics-85" - in 1985. In our country, there are enterprises Mikron, Angstrem-T, Baikal Electronics JSC, PKK Milandr JSC, MCST JSC, STC Module JSC, Elvis SPC JSC and a number of others involved in the development and production. But there are also important nuances.

The key point is the process by which the microchips are made: the fewer nanometers, the better. For understanding: the level of 180 nm was achieved by world technological leaders more than 20 years ago, 90 nm - more than 10 years ago, today they have reached 7 nm and even 3 nm. It took 30 years for Taiwan under the most favorable conditions to reach this level, and it holds 60% of the market, producing chips from 90 to 3 nm. Mainland China said last year that it had the necessary manufacturing capacity to mass-produce modern chips using the 14nm process. What do we have?

Zelenograd Mikron is a recognized leader in the field of Russian microelectronics. It has 180nm, 90nm and 65nm production technologies. Since 2018, the company has been planning to find investors to modernize production and master the 45-28 nm process technology, but these plans, alas, have not come true so far. JSC SPC "Elvis" in its developments has a portfolio of 50 chip types with production according to the technical process from 250 nm to 16 nm, and the most famous development of the company is the 28-nm processor "Skif". But this production was physically located in Taiwan, and TSMC stopped deliveries after the imposition of sanctions. According to some information, the construction of the NM-Tech plant is underway in Zelenograd, which will be able to produce chips using the 28-nm process technology.

The overall picture is clear. Russia will not remain completely without microchips, but there is a technological lag of several generations. Unfortunately, it will not be so easy to reschedule it at the behest of Putin. In order to create a competitive microelectronics industry, a combination of several factors is necessary.

At first, we need competent and well-trained personnel who will not flee abroad for higher salaries.

Secondly, we need modern high-tech equipment, the production of which is virtually monopolized, consumables and materials. Such equipment is being developed by the Netherlands (ASML), Japan (Nikon and Canon) and the USA (Applied Materials). Today, under the conditions of sanctions, it is not so easy to acquire all this. Since the “fat” decades have been mediocrely missed, now you can get something only through many intermediaries with the corresponding costs and restrictions.

ThirdlyIf we talk about the commercial component of such a project, it is desirable to have a capacious domestic market. Otherwise, such production will be initially and always subsidized. However, in a war this is acceptable.

What is left to do here and now?

First of all, one must be realistic and understand that a miracle will not happen and the modern Russian Federation alone will not create a competitive microelectronic industry. Therefore, it is necessary to go in several directions at once. On the one hand, it is necessary to obtain the required equipment by all possible means, miniaturize and at the same time scale production volumes. If it is possible to master the 28-nanometer processor mentioned above on our own, this must be done, and as soon as possible. On the other hand, it is necessary to try to cooperate with China by integrating into its production chain of more advanced 14-nm semiconductors and its accompanying "ecosystem" as at least a junior partner.

Finally, a comprehensive plan is needed for the development of Russian science, education and the reindustrialization of the country, since all these microchips are needed not by themselves, but in modern technology, both civilian and military.
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  1. sgrabik Offline sgrabik
    sgrabik (Sergei) 2 March 2023 12: 27
    In response to all these hostile American attacks, we need to consolidate with China and completely limit the supply of all rare earth metals to the United States, because China and Russia account for the lion's share of them, without them the United States and its satellites simply will not be able to actively develop high-tech sectors of the economy.
    1. Plmhj Offline Plmhj
      Plmhj (Ivan Grom) 3 March 2023 21: 13
      Also gases.
  2. Constantine N Offline Constantine N
    Constantine N (Constantin N) 2 March 2023 13: 02
    yeah, for 20 years of peacetime they could not agree and get equipment for chips, and now what are the chances? China will agree to sell its chips at most, not equipment
    1. Vox Populi Online Vox Populi
      Vox Populi (vox populi) 2 March 2023 15: 24
      Quote from Constantin N.
      yeah, for 20 years of peacetime they could not agree and get equipment for chips, and now what are the chances? China will agree to sell its chips at most, not equipment

      In fact of the matter!
    2. Vladimir Tuzakov (Vladimir Tuzakov) 2 March 2023 17: 13
      Where is A. Chubais and Rosnano that they spent billions on new technologies. There are no new technologies, as well as allocated billions, for which many Chubais are sunbathing abroad as "rich Pinocchios". And today you need to bow to everyone, for wartime and necessity.
  3. Victor M. Offline Victor M.
    Victor M. (Victor) 2 March 2023 13: 04
    Roasted rooster. For the military and 90 nano will do. A rocket is not a smartphone, there is enough space. And what do we see? All the same, they have Western microcircuits. At least they write about it. Instead of creating "funds" that the West stole, it was necessary to make a base for microelectronics.
  4. DO Offline DO
    DO (Dmitriy) 2 March 2023 13: 38
    it is necessary to try to cooperate with China by integrating into its production chain of more advanced 14-nm semiconductors and its accompanying "ecosystem" as at least a junior partner.

    The 14nm process at SMIC's Chinese mainland factory is based on Western equipment and materials. Therefore, open cooperation with Russian processor developers threatens SMIC with secondary Western sanctions and a stop in production. This is especially true for Russian processors used for the military, and the licensed ARM architecture banned by the US for Russia.
    Perhaps there are at least some small chances to somehow agree with SMIC on large batches of production of multi-core processors from MCST with the international open purely "civilian" architecture SPARC for desktop computers?
    That is, the salvation of drowning people is the work of the drowning people themselves. The only chance for Russia not to disappear is to create a domestic 28 nm technology in a short time, at least for the first time only subsidized, for critical industries.
  5. kriten Offline kriten
    kriten (Vladimir) 2 March 2023 14: 05
    If not for the hostile US policy towards China in high-tech areas, China would never develop this direction together with us, trying to keep us in the role of disenfranchised almost buyers. Although this may be the case under pressure from the United States.
  6. zzdimk Offline zzdimk
    zzdimk 2 March 2023 14: 40
    I agree with the author. There is no special way out. There is only an entrance. Unfortunately, there are a lot of developments that technologies and developments made by our former and present fellow citizens, alas, are not patented by us. We'll have to recreate everything!
  7. 1_2 Offline 1_2
    1_2 (Ducks are flying) 2 March 2023 15: 08
    back in 11, an experienced Russian photolithograph was created, then there was infa about the creation of maskless technology, if Govorun's liberals do not interfere, then for sure the Russian Academy of Sciences will create equipment for the production of processors
  8. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 2 March 2023 15: 39
    All nonsense.
    China doesn’t need us, except as suppliers of raw materials. We give them raw materials - they give us modern beads.
    Something more complicated, we, alas, are no longer pulling, judging by the media.
    (There was so much PR on the joint airliner, and suddenly ... the vague statements of officials that we don’t need it and are silent ....)

    At home, there were several publicized investments in microelectronics and "iPhone killers". Everything turned into gigantic losses and unpunished cutting of money.

    Moreover, private shops that worked for foreigners, for the card market, etc. - surprisingly live and work. (up to SVO for sure). The available technologies would cope with most of the problems, there would be a sales market, electronics equipment, software equipment, but ....
    what's the use of a domestically promoted processor if, with a small circulation, it costs like a ready-made computer?

    Bottom line: while there is no normal business plan, sales market, normal managers - this will only be a means of "optimization".
    They will spend billions, build for millions, release for thousands, write off everything and go bankrupt ....
    1. Nelton Offline Nelton
      Nelton (Oleg) 2 March 2023 16: 01
      Quote: Sergey Latyshev
      what's the use of a domestically promoted processor if, with a small circulation, it costs like a ready-made computer?

      If we are talking about processors for industrial equipment, transport systems, etc. - then there is a lot of sense from one’s own, because. There are simply no more imports.

      Quote: Sergey Latyshev
      Something more difficult, we, alas, no longer pull

      We pull a lot, but the question is localization.
      It is not 146%, primarily for the same electronics.


      A joint Russian-Indian venture with the participation of Transmashholding JSC and the Indian railway company Rail Vikas Nigam won a tender for the production and maintenance of 200 light trains for Indian railways

      In 2022, TMH supplied diesel locomotives to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, as well as metro cars to Azerbaijan. Work continues on the project for the supply of 1300 passenger cars to Egypt

      So not only raw materials.
      But it is to China - yes, it is extremely difficult for them to promote products.

      And yes, for the same China, the same localization is far from 146%, but for countries like Brazil / Mexico / Turkey - even lower.
  9. Nelton Offline Nelton
    Nelton (Oleg) 2 March 2023 15: 39
    ZNTC has signed to create 2025 nm photolithographic equipment by 350.
    130 nm "at the end of 2026".
    Belarusians ("Integral") are already discussing the terms of pre-orders for such equipment.
    How realistic it is - I can not judge.
  10. Valera75 Offline Valera75
    Valera75 (Valery) 2 March 2023 17: 06
    I once read that Elbrus and Baikal are being produced by us, and lo and behold, they even mastered the 8nm process technology, although TSMC produced these chips for them. it puffs and pushes and produces 65 tons of pieces a year, but it seems that Taiwan makes it all.

    At the moment, in Russia there is the possibility of mass production of only chips with a 65-130 nm process technology. Such lines are available at the Mikron plant in Zelenograd.

    However, our developers have already had negative experiences with this plant. In the period from 2005 to 2013, the plant produced pilot batches of the first generation of the Elbrus processor using 130 nm technology. After eliminating the identified problems in the chip itself and refining the production, a batch of second-generation chips was released according to the 90 nm process technology.

    The processor showed insufficient performance, and the amount of marriage was too large. According to experts, the plant was poorly adapted for such production and required equipment upgrades.

    As a result, from the third generation, the production of Elbrus processors was ordered abroad. Basically, these were contracts with the Taiwanese TSMC.

    After the modernization and improvement of production facilities at the Mikron plant, a test batch of Elbrus-4SM chips (65 nm) was produced.

    Do the Chinese need us, or is it easier for them to master all the technical processes on their own without Russian ballast? Easy!
  11. Jacques sekavar Offline Jacques sekavar
    Jacques sekavar (Jacques Sekavar) 2 March 2023 17: 12
    By analogy with the Russian Federation, the PRC has its own “import substitution” program, including microelectronics, artificial intelligence, information computing communication systems, and invests billions in its development.
    Microcircuits must first be invented, a technology created and put into pilot or mass production, the equipment and components of which are not fully produced by any state entity in the world, and only the United States and China can afford to create a high-tech industry completely independent of external negative impact. The maximum that other state entities can do is to set up pilot production for scientific and technological purposes.
    The industrialization program of the USSR included the training of personnel and the creation of entire industries, such as machine tool building, automobile shipbuilding and aviation industries, instrument making, communications, etc., etc. and the main tasks of the program were solved in one (!!!) decade - just in time for the beginning of the Second World War, but can the Russian Federation do something similar today?
  12. Michael 68 Offline Michael 68
    Michael 68 2 March 2023 17: 34
    Russia does not need all this electronics. As one well-known character said, "We will buy everything." And we do not need any production. You can put your favorite children on the purchase. And they will make millions. And production needs brains. And the desire of the state. Again, many workers and engineers are needed for production. And for trade, a couple of managers are a lawyer, director and a state contract. Therefore, it is more economical to buy everything. than to produce by ourselves. And now the main thing for us is the economy. Not a country.
  13. Mikhalych Offline Mikhalych
    Mikhalych 3 March 2023 10: 26
    Russia supplies over the hill 80% of sapphire substrates for silicon wafers. In addition to sapphire substrates, Russia supplies ultrapure rare earth elements and neon to the world market. It's time to stop chewing snot and ship it to Taiwan and other countries. And where does the money come from? To answer this question, it is necessary to ask the oligarchs what is the use of them for the state. In addition to fattening, the export of capital over the hill is zero.
    1. Nelton Offline Nelton
      Nelton (Oleg) 3 March 2023 10: 36
      Quote: Mikhalych
      Russia supplies over the hill 80% of sapphire substrates for silicon wafers

      But at the same time, it buys single-crystal silicon for 200mm wafers.
      Ruselectronics only mastered 107mm (2022), and that is already a success.
      1. Mikhalych Offline Mikhalych
        Mikhalych 3 March 2023 13: 24
        But at the same time, he buys single-crystal silicon for 200mm wafers

        I am 72 years old and long retired. familiar with the topic. The problem of silicon purification existed even in the USSR. And nothing has changed.
  14. Enoch Offline Enoch
    Enoch (Enoch) 3 March 2023 11: 31
    Everything is going according to the plan of the world government.
  15. prior Offline prior
    prior (Vlad) 3 March 2023 12: 30
    What Russian microelectronics?! Who will create it?
    If the head of the QCD of the assembly production of one of the leading enterprises in Zelenograd does not know Ohm's law, what kind of development can we talk about.
    I had the opportunity to see for myself.
    1. Mikhalych Offline Mikhalych
      Mikhalych 3 March 2023 13: 29
      If the head of the QCD of the assembly production of one of the leading enterprises in Zelenograd does not know Ohm's law, what kind of development can we talk about.

      The head of the OTK does not need to know not only Ohm's law, but even Kirchhoff's laws and even (oh horror) the Schrödinger wave equation.
  16. Tequila Offline Tequila
    Tequila (Tequila) 3 March 2023 15: 30
    In Russia, it makes no sense to manufacture modern processors.
    - no one will sell modern equipment for production
    - England will not give a license for ARM
    - even if we imagine that a miracle happened and the processor turned out to be good and inexpensive, sanctions are imposed on it and no one in the world will use it in their products.
    The only way out is fantastic - the destruction of the United States as a "world gendarme" and at the same time an increase in the political and economic weight of Russia in the world. Large-scale purges and landings of "effective managers". Withdrawal from the WTO. The closure of the IMF branch (Central Bank of Russia) and the creation of a real Russian central bank with lending activities aimed at the development of Russian industry, and not Western.
    Something like this.
    1. Vladimir Tuzakov (Vladimir Tuzakov) 3 March 2023 21: 18
      This begs a primitive answer, all high-tech production of basic microelectronics (chips) is concentrated in several places (Taiwan, Indonesia, etc.), just walk through such enterprises with the defeat of production (from supplying to production lines) and everything will stand up for a long time. Billions of dollars worth of gas pipelines are being blown up in our country, so it's time for us to do something adequate. For some reason, our brainless or corrupt (according to the leadership) SVR cannot understand direct actions that disarm the enemy for a long time
    2. DO Offline DO
      DO (Dmitriy) 3 March 2023 21: 21

      England will not give a license for ARM

      Licenses for ARM were purchased from Baikal-Electronics. For those processes that were produced, there are both design and production licenses. For developed processes - a design license.
      Therefore, if Russia creates its own 28 nm technology, Baikal has full international rights to both produce and sell ARM processors.
      Moreover, after the isolating sanctions of the West, which are illegal from the point of view of international law, the freezing of 300 lards of Russian greens, and after some Western companies tore up contracts and scammed their Russian clients, the Russians have every right to respond symmetrically, at least not giving a damn about all Western patents . Obligations and responsibility do not happen only in one direction.
  17. Art Pilot Offline Art Pilot
    Art Pilot (pilot) 3 March 2023 19: 57
    Russia needs to cooperate with China, India, Iran, Vietnam, Belarus, and even North Korea on various topics. I would have asked Kim Jong-un for soldiers of 100 thousand.
  18. Zenn Offline Zenn
    Zenn (Andrei) 4 March 2023 16: 25
    The key point is the process by which the microchips are made: the fewer nanometers, the better.

    Let me disagree with the author, up to 80% of the chips used are manufactured using technology up to 30 nm, everything else is almost in full, it's just marketing. These are video cards for gamers that cost many times more, their performance is higher by a few percent, and heat is generated much more.
    In fact, an electric stove with an additional video processing function. Exactly the same situation with chips for new phone models.
    For real industry, as well as the military-industrial complex and the automotive industry, 65nm is enough.
    And in the market of super expensive video cards, phone models, no one is waiting for Russia.
  19. In passing Offline In passing
    In passing (Galina Rožkova) 6 March 2023 21: 28
    Author, your last paragraph is incomparable!
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