China is the world's largest auto market, but the self-sufficiency rate of domestic auto chips is less than 3%. Under the crisis of core shortage, what should the automotive industry chain do?
From September 6th to 7th, during the 4th Global New Energy and Smart Vehicle Supply Chain Innovation Conference, many governments, academia, Chinese and foreign auto companies and Tier 1s at home and abroad said that the problem of chip supply guarantee is still serious, and there is a shortage of automobiles. The core may last until the end of next year. The recent series of restrictions on the semiconductor industry introduced by the United States in China will inevitably increase the risks to the future industry chain. Therefore, it is urgent to build a domestic supply chain ecology with high efficiency and resilience.
On the one hand, some chips are still in shortage. Since 2020, the lack of cores has become an important issue in the automotive industry; now, two years later, there are still shortages of MCUs, power chips, and SerDes interface chips. Several industry sources believe that the chip shortage may continue into next year. On the other hand, domestic chip companies have ushered in a period of rapid development, such as Xinchi Technology, Horizon, etc., have all risen one after another, and completed the tape-out, SOP verification, and loading of products.
What is the current status of the domestic automotive chip industry? What kind of in-vehicle chips are needed in the field of smart cars? How can in-vehicle chips help the development of the smart car industry? The answer was found after many interviews with Che East and West.
"Sword of Damocles" hangs high, localization transformation of automobile industry chain
Changes in the international situation, the economic situation, and the epidemic situation may lead to the occurrence of supply cuts, just like the sword of Damocles hanging over the auto industry. Automakers hit hard by the "lack of cores" did not sit still and began to localize their supply chains. "Lack of core" and "guaranteed supply" are words frequently mentioned by car companies in the past two years. On the one hand, domestic car companies are still suffering from chip shortages; on the other hand, the US chip bill and export restrictions have reduced the number of high-end chips imported.
According to statistics from traditional OEMs, including chips with high computing power, MCUs, and key semiconductor devices such as communication chips and power chips, even the lowest-equipped models will use more than 400 chips in the entire vehicle. Currently relying heavily on imports. "Supply chain security is still the number one issue for auto companies to secure production and market share."
Miao Wei, deputy director of the Economic Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also mentioned at the above conference that the supply chain of new energy vehicles and intelligent networked vehicles has undergone great changes in recent years, and the supply chain of global layout will be changed in the future. The multi-point supply chain and regional chain will be the development trend of the future supply chain.
On the one hand, vehicle and parts companies collaborate to build industrial clusters . Some OEMs suggested that supply chain enterprises should focus on vehicle enterprises and establish a software and hardware development and supporting system for core components within a certain area, so as to fundamentally ensure the stable and innovative development of the supply chain.
On the other hand, OEMs cooperate more closely with parts suppliers. A large joint venture automobile company said that in order to build an efficient and strong supply chain, it is necessary to strengthen the coordination between OEMs and parts supply chains. , even to this level of chip suppliers. Only in this way can we choose and develop chips that are more in line with the needs of our user scenarios based on actual scenarios.”
Zhang Qiang, chairman of Xinchi Technology, a domestic automotive chip company, said that the relationship between chip companies, Tier 1, and car manufacturers is undergoing a transition from the traditional "supply" to the "win-win" stage. At present, the traditional one-way semiconductor supply chain is being transformed into an open and diversified new semiconductor supply chain relationship. At the same time, the global supply chain is also undergoing changes from a global division of labor to local control.
In addition to the impact of external factors such as geopolitics and repeated epidemics, the electronic and electrical architecture of the vehicle has developed from distributed to centralized and centralized, which is an important reason for accelerating the reshaping of the supply chain industry structure. With the development of the electronic electrification architecture, China has changed from a guided position to a leading position, which means that China has more judgments on the smart car industry and also has more needs, and the localization advantage of domestic component manufacturers These new application scenarios and emergencies can be quickly responded to.
In the past two years, the products of many domestic chip manufacturers have entered domestic and foreign auto companies. These products are not only low-end domestic substitutes, but are equal to or even surpass the international first-class manufacturers in the fields of intelligent driving, intelligent cockpit, high-performance MCU, and central gateway. The vigorous replacement trend of localization of chips is emerging.
Smart cars have a higher demand for chips, and safety cannot be ignored
It is not easy to grasp this trend and support the transformation of the automobile industry. In the past, distributed electrical and electronic architectures were mainly used in the industry, which required multiple ECUs to support. With the increase of intelligent components, in order to be more efficient, car companies are currently adopting the architecture of domain controllers, including independent autonomous driving domains, intelligent cockpit domains, etc. Cabin and mooring integrated design.
The future central computing architecture has higher requirements for in-vehicle chips, and chip companies need to make arrangements in the fields of cockpit chips, smart driving chips, gateway chips, and MCUs. At present, many domestic chip companies have begun to make efforts in the cockpit and smart driving chips, but most of these companies are concentrated in the field of smart driving or cockpit, and few of them have made a comprehensive layout.
Xinchi Technology is a representative enterprise with a comprehensive layout. It is currently the only automotive chip company in China that has layouts in the cockpit, intelligent driving, gateway, and high-performance MCU. This "combination punch" product deployment model is obviously borrowed from automotive semiconductor giants. If the car is likened to an Autobot, the central computing platform is equivalent to the human brain, the X9 intelligent cockpit product, and the V9 intelligent driving product V9 are the emotional quotient and IQ of the human being, and the gateway is equivalent to the nerve center, and the MCU control is equivalent to the human limbs, the products of these four domains work together to make the vehicle's intelligence level higher, and let the car develop in the direction of the Autobot.
Being able to make arrangements in advance for future development trends is inseparable from the team background of Xinchi. Qiu Yujing, co-founder and CEO of Xinchi, once led the R&D team to launch the automotive cockpit chip series with the largest market share in the world, covering almost all mainstream models. The team of Xinchi has more than 20 years of experience in the mass production of automotive-grade chips. Good enough predictability.
Having a product is only the first step. As the most important means of transportation for human beings, the requirements for safety are self-evident. The parts and components used by car companies must have very high safety certifications. The life cycle of a car is about ten years, which also requires every component in the car to work stably for at least ten years, and at the same time, it must be able to cope with various extreme climatic environments. Therefore, the test and certification of automotive-grade chips are one of the most stringent tests. It almost requires the chips developed by enterprises to achieve zero defects, which is a very big challenge for chip companies.
While enriching the product line, Xinchi has not slacked off on safety. Xinchi is the first company in China that has passed the TUV Rheinland ISO 26262 ASIL D functional safety process certification, and its products are also the first domestic vehicle processor that has obtained the TUV Rheinland ISO 26262 ASIL B product certification. The first batch of enterprises to obtain the national secret and commercial secret product certification, and their core products have passed all AEC-Q100 reliability certification projects at one time.
Mass production and domestic chips really set sail
At this stage, major domestic chip startups have entered the stage of mass production. According to reports, Xinchi's smart cockpit and central gateway chips have been mass-produced, and MCUs will also be shipped in large quantities at the end of this year, including battery manufacturers such as CATL, Honeycomb Energy, and Sunwoda are also using Xinchi's products. Sales of all chip families will be on the order of millions.
At present, Xinchi has obtained more than 100 designated mass production sites, serving more than 260 customers, covering more than 90% of China's car companies, and has mass production projects in Daimler, Honda, Nissan, FAW, Dongfeng, SAIC, Changan, and another fixed-point project. In terms of the scale and progress of some shipments we have seen, we can also predict that the prospect of mass production of domestic chips in the future is very promising.
According to Xinchi's share, many car manufacturers use Xinchi's smart cockpit at first, and later use the gateway or intelligent driving chip, and the MCU will be launched in April this year and will be mass-produced this year. The core reasons for such high-speed advancement are, first, the customer's trust in the original products of Xinchi; the second is that the compatibility between many underlying IPs of various products of Xinchi is very good. Using these chips at the same time can be understood as a set of products, and the development efficiency has been greatly improved.
Overall, the current shortage of chips and restrictions in the United States is a good development opportunity for domestic chip companies, which can use this gap to fill the gap of domestic vehicle chips. However, in such an environment, domestic chip companies still need to cultivate their internal skills, continuously improve their technical strength and product layout, and improve the chip supply chain system, so that the most critical link in the automotive industry chain can be replaced by localization. After doing this, mass production will be the most critical step. Taking this step, domestic chip companies will really set sail.