The chip design software industry is placing its aspirations on China’s burgeoning automobile sector and its growing demand for integrated circuits, according to executives’ assertions at Semicon China last week.
Meanwhile, leading global players are grappling with tightened restrictions on exports to the world’s second-largest economy.
During the chip conference in Shanghai, Liu Weiping, the founder and chairman of Empyrean Technology, China’s premier chip design tool provider, stated that the company is intensifying its efforts in constructing Chinese electronic design automation (EDA) solutions for automotive electronics.
This strategic move aims to capitalize on the rapid expansion of the intelligent vehicle market.
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Liu emphasized that automobiles, particularly new energy vehicles, are increasingly incorporating numerous electronic components such as chips, displays, and lidar. Consequently, the design of these components necessitates support from EDA software.
Empyrean Technology, established in 2009 and publicly listed in Shenzhen in July 2022, is regarded as one of China’s prime contenders in achieving self-sufficiency in the EDA sector.
Presently, the industry is largely dominated by four American companies: Cadence, Synopsys, Ansys, and Siemens EDA (previously known as Mentor Graphics before being acquired by Siemens in 2017), collectively accounting for approximately 90% of the market.
EDA represents a classification of software tools employed in the design of advanced integrated circuits, or chips that house billions of transistors.
These chips serve as the “cerebral power” driving a range of modern devices, including electric appliances, smartphones, personal computers, medical equipment, automobiles, and aircraft.
Danny Perng, the senior vice-president of the Pacific Rim at Siemens EDA, echoed the growing significance of the auto industry in chip design.
In another keynote address at the conference, Perng acknowledged the evolving landscape of automotive electronics.
Perng commended Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers for their exceptional prominence in the global market, which he viewed as an outstanding opportunity for the development of automotive electronics and semiconductors.
Additionally, he mentioned that Tier 1 automobile companies like BYD aspire to integrate chip design and manufacturing entirely, establishing their own factories.
Siemens EDA, Perng noted, has crafted a comprehensive range of solutions for automakers, spanning from auto chips to system intelligence. These solutions can enable companies to utilize human resources more effectively, enhance product quality, exercise cost control, and accelerate the time-to-market for new products.
Given that cars predominantly employ mature-node chips unaffected by US export regulations, the automotive market has become a focal point for Chinese chip manufacturers. Furthermore, this market segment is experiencing rapid growth.
According to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics, a trade organization, the automotive industry was the fastest-growing end-use sector for semiconductors in the past year, accounting for 14.1% of global semiconductor sales.
The Asia-Pacific region is anticipated to be the swiftest expanding market for auto chips.
The escalation of restrictions by the US government has contributed to a downturn in China’s chip industry, compounded by supply chain disruptions exacerbated by geopolitical tensions.
As a result, the global semiconductor industry is projected to witness an 11.2% decline in revenue in 2023, amounting to $532 billion, as forecasted by Gartner in April.
In recent years, China has significantly ramped up its production of auto chips, which is anticipated to reach $17.2 billion this year, representing a 55% surge compared to 2018.
This growth is propelled by the increasing popularity of intelligent vehicles in the world’s largest automotive market.
Liu of Empyrean Technology mentioned that the company has developed a dedicated suite of tools specifically for designing auto chips, which necessitate higher standards compared to other integrated circuits. Chips utilized in automobiles are required
to have a long lifespan, lasting at least 30 years, and endure harsh environments, including high temperatures.
Empyrean, headquartered in Beijing, aims to catch up with the four leading EDA companies in due course, according to Liu.
He expressed his desire to learn from these established entities and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them at the forefront of the global EDA industry. The audience at the conference responded with enthusiastic applause to Liu’s sentiments.