After the baptism of the epidemic at the beginning of the year, the road of self-research of domestic automobile chips began to roll forward. In the first half of the year, many auto companies such as BAIC and Geely announced that they would develop their own chips for cars. In the second half of the year, it was reported that Weilai also plans to enter into car chips.
For a time, the domestic car companies were on the road of self-developed chips, and the waves were on the road, and there was a momentum to fight for foreign car companies to die on the beach.
To sell well, self-developed chips are indispensable
After May, the domestic car chip market was extremely lively. The first to sound the horn was BAIC, which announced that it had signed an agreement with Imagination Group and Cuiwei Co., Ltd. to establish a joint venture Beijing Corecore Technology Co., Ltd.
Speaking of Imagination, it is known as a jewel in the crown of British technology. It ranks among the top three in the world in the field of image processing and semiconductor IP, and is three-thirds in the world with Qualcomm and Arm. Cuiwei Co., Ltd. is China’s department store giant. In 2019, it failed to enter the semiconductor field. This time, it happened to have the opportunity to set up a joint venture with BAIC and Imagination to enter semiconductors.
From the perspective of BAIC’s external publicity, the joint venture company will focus on the research and development of autonomous driving chips and language interaction chips. If the research and development goes well, the future products will be introduced into the cars of BAIC and other domestic automakers.
Since BAIC chose Imagination, Geely Automobile was naturally unwilling to do so. It chose Imagination’s competitor, Arm China, to jointly fund and jointly established Xinqing Technology.
This month, Xinqing Technology officially made its debut in Wuhan. The official said that in the future, it will formulate long-term research and development and mass production plans for autonomous driving, microcontrollers, smart cockpits and other chip fields.
There is no doubt that if the product is mass-produced, it will be given priority to Geely’s own cars, and if necessary, it can also be imported into the cars of friends. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Wang Kai, CEO of Xinqing Technology, has extensive experience in the semiconductor industry. He once served as the CEO of a Sino-foreign joint venture IC design company in Guizhou. He said that the first 7nm automotive-grade chip will be taped out next year.
However, BAIC and Geely are not the fastest in developing chips for Sino-foreign joint ventures. As early as 2018, SAIC and Infineon established a joint venture company for automotive IGBTs, focusing on the research and development of IGBTs.
Of course, when it comes to the layout of semiconductors by car companies, the most successful one is BYD. Not only did it design its own domestic IGBTs, but also built its first domestic production line. Although there is still a gap between products and giants like Infineon, its strength Can not be underestimated.
With IGBTs and batteries, BYD ranks among the top domestic new energy vehicles, and its road to success also provides a template for other auto companies.
BYD IGBT 4.0 wafer, source: BYD official website
This month, BYD started to make new moves again. It became the third largest shareholder with 6.93% of shares in Huada Beidou. Huada Beidou is mainly engaged in navigation and positioning chips. Needless to say, Beidou navigation is the lifeblood of the country.
BYD’s stake in Huada Beidou should be valued for the latter’s GNSS satellite navigation and positioning chip design capabilities. In the future, it can cooperate with BYD Auto to build its own in-vehicle industry chain. In short, BYD has assumed a posture to be the best self-driving car in the country.
Car-making “core” forces
Standing on the air vent, it is not just traditional car companies such as BAIC and SAIC that are thinking about it. As an upstart, Wei Lai also wants to have a bite of meat.
Recently, it was reported that Weilai also plans to develop self-driving chips by itself, and is currently digging in Silicon Valley. It is estimated that the project will have a budget ranging from RMB 1 billion to US$1 billion, depending on the degree of self-research.
In addition to NIO, the semiconductor upstart Horizon launched its first automotive-grade AI chip in August last year-Journey 2 stunning four seats, and was successfully used in Changan Automobile; last month, Horizon launched a new generation of high-efficiency Journey 3 that can carry AI chips, according to its next plan, will also launch Journey 5 and Journey 6 for high-level autonomous driving scenarios. It seems that AI upstarts are about to slam autonomous driving.
Image source: Horizon official website
There are lively places, and Internet giants are naturally indispensable. Alibaba has also made big moves on chips in the past two years. Its Pingtou Semiconductor released the Xuantie 910 in July last year, which uses L4 autonomous driving as the starting point. Focused on areas such as artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.
In addition, Huawei’s “car building” has also been officially confirmed. In the future, Huawei will position itself as a supplier of incremental auto parts. Its self-developed MDC intelligent driving platform based on the Shengteng series of AI chips can support up to L4. Autonomous driving requires computing power, and showed off its muscles at the Beijing Auto Show not long ago.
Self-developed chip is a broad road
The wheels of autonomous driving are rolling forward. Whether it is traditional car companies, new energy upstarts, or technology giants such as Huawei and Internet giants such as Alibaba, they all want to solve the “core disease” of automotive semiconductors. There are many reasons for this. .
First of all, domestic BYD and foreign Tesla, their success proves that autonomous driving is a bright road.
In terms of automotive power semiconductors, IGBT chips currently account for about 7%-10% of the total vehicle cost. Taking Tesla Model X as an example, it uses 132 IGBT tubes provided by Infineon. The cost is about At $650, this is a big cake second only to batteries.
By relying on its own efforts, after years of research and development, BYD has finally made some achievements in IGBT, and has been widely recognized by the capital market. In April this year, after BYD split the semiconductor business, its financing scale reached 2.7 billion in one month, introduced 44 investment entities from more than 30 institutions, and its market value soared to 30 billion. Another IGBT company Star Semiconductor, after its listing, its stock price rose by 1424% at its peak.
Star Semiconductor Products
Different from power semiconductors such as IGBTs, digital chips such as autonomous driving chips have also received widespread attention with the development of autonomous driving technology. International giants such as Intel and Nvidia are vigorously advancing. Intel acquired Mobileye to develop autonomous driving. Mobileye also signed an agreement with Ziguang last year to establish a joint venture to enter the Chinese market.
Nvidia previously provided chips for Tesla, but in 2017 Musk decided to end himself, and in April 2019 launched the self-developed master chip FSD and carried it for mass production.
After Musk’s self-driving chip came on the market, it has pushed this star car company to another peak. Today, Tesla is already a benchmark company for self-driving, and every move has attracted market attention.
With the continuous advancement of autonomous driving, automotive semiconductors are bound to usher in their own golden age. According to data from PricewaterhouseCoopers, by 2030, the cost of Electronic components will account for about 50% of the cost of the entire vehicle in an electric car and L5 level driverless car, and the profit is unprecedented. This is also an important reason for many companies to deploy. .
Just need but also soft power
Car companies have squeezed into the track of automotive semiconductors. In addition to expanding their own territory in advance, they can also enhance their brand premium capabilities. This can be compared with the mobile phone industry.
The self-developed chips play an important role in the mobile phones of Apple and Huawei. In the annual new phone conference, in addition to consumers caring about the new functions of mobile phones, the appearance of new chips is one of the biggest highlights of the whole conference, because there are the blessings of A series chips and HiSilicon chips, Huawei mobile phones and The iPhone can have greater premium capabilities.
Chips are not only a kind of hard power, but also a kind of soft power. Tesla and Apple also have similarities in the automotive field. If domestic car companies want to gain a greater voice, naturally, self-developed chips are indispensable.