The conflict between Russia and Ukraine

 The conflict between Russia and Ukraine affects the semiconductor industry chain: the game between material supply and chip sanctions intensifies

Our reporter Qin Xiao reported in Beijing

  The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is affecting many global industries such as oil, grain, and chips. A few days ago, some countries in Europe and the United States announced sanctions against Russia, and major chip and technology companies also announced that they would stop doing business with Russia. At the same time, Ukraine, as the world's largest supplier of electronic special gases (electronic special gases, also known as electronic gases, mainly including neon, krypton, xenon, etc., which are one of the core materials of semiconductors), will this conflict affect related gases? Supply and impact on the semiconductor industry have caused concern and concerns from all parties.

  A number of industry insiders told the "China Business News" reporter that Russia and Ukraine can only be counted as raw material suppliers, not manufacturers. Semiconductor downstream companies do not directly purchase from Russia and Ukraine, and electronic special gas manufacturers currently have both. Sufficient reserves, the impact is small, but the phenomenon of price increases in the short term cannot be ruled out.


  Electronic special gas supply?

  A few days ago, according to Reuters, ASML, the chip lithography giant with a market value of over $260 billion, is looking for other sources of neon gas supply in case the conflict between Russia and Ukraine causes supply disruptions.

  There are traces of this news. A report released by the research agency Omdia pointed out that Ukraine has important electronic gas companies such as Iceblick, Ingas and Cryoin, accounting for more than 70% of the global supply of neon, while the global supply share of krypton and xenon reaches 40% respectively. and 30%.

  Electronic special gas is called the blood of modern electronic industry, mainly used in semiconductor, liquid crystal display, crystalline silicon solar cell, optical fiber and other fields. Electron gas, as the core raw material of semiconductor manufacturing, is the largest material other than silicon wafers. These rare gases can be used in the production of excimer laser light sources and semiconductor etching in ArF and KrF lithography machines, respectively, and are mainly used in DUV (deep ultraviolet) process technology for mature 250~130nm 8-inch wafers, based on IntelThe 10nm manufacturing process CPU (Central Processing Unit) also relies on neon gas.

  Kemet Gas (002549.SZ) said that among helium, neon, krypton and xenon, xenon is the most expensive, especially aviation xenon. The higher the purity, the higher the price. The current tension between Russia and Ukraine will continue to increase the price.

  It is worth noting that the Crimea incident in 2014 led to a sharp rise in the price of electronic special gas, and the price of neon gas once increased by nearly 10 times, reaching a high price of $3,500 per cubic meter.

  The Huatai Securities research team believes that Russia and Ukraine account for a small share of the global semiconductor industry chain, and semiconductor raw materials are only a segmented application field. Raw materials such as palladium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon in Russia and Ukraine account for the cost of semiconductors. Specific gravity is low. It is expected that the demand for semiconductor manufacturing can be stabilized through increased purchases, etc., and the situation in Russia and Ukraine may only cause short-term or local fluctuations.

  In fact, in the past year, due to the escalating bilateral friction between Russia and Ukraine, the price of global rare gases has been rising since the second half of 2021. According to data from Baichuan Yingfu, the price of neon gas in my country (with a content of 99.99%) has risen from 400 yuan/cubic meter in October 2021 to more than 1,600 yuan/cubic meter currently.

  However, according to domestic and foreign semiconductor companies, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has less impact on the industrial chain.

  ASML said a few days ago that the neon gas produced in Ukraine accounts for less than 20% of its consumption, and it is trying to find other sources of neon gas supply. Wafer foundry leader TSMCto Morgan StanleyIt was revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2021, the gas inventory of wafer foundries in Taiwan, China has reached a level of 6 months, which is enough to support 1-2 years of demand.

  In this regard, Samsung, Intel, GF, UMC, Micron and SK Hynix and other chip companies also responded: "The situation in Russia and Ukraine has no direct impact on the company. The company can find sources of goods outside Russia and Ukraine, and the supply of materials is still stable at this stage."

  The domestic electronic special gas producer Walter Gas also said that the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will not have a great impact on the company. For rare gases, the company has domestic suppliers.

  The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said: “The semiconductor industry has a diverse range of key material and gas suppliers, so we do not see a risk of immediate supply disruptions related to Russia and Ukraine for key materials and gases.”

  "There are more than thousands of processes in chip manufacturing, and the process involves the use of hundreds of electronic special gases. The technical barriers of electronic special gases are very high, and the technical barriers to gas purity, mixing accuracy, analysis and detection quality control, gas filling, steel cylinders, packaging and storage are very high. Transportation and other aspects have high technical requirements." Wang Zhiwei, a semiconductor analyst at Xintai Securities, told reporters: "To be more precise, the monopoly of the neon gas market is not the raw material producers such as Russia and Ukraine. At present, the global semiconductor industry The required electronic gas is monopolized by several leading companies in developed countries. The top four electronic gas companies are American Air Chemicals, Germany's Linde- Prax, France Air Liquide and Japan Sun Nippon Acid together, the global market share of more than 90%. Therefore, it will not cause tension in the supply chain. "

  Russian semiconductor industry under sanctions

  As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalates, after announcing financial sanctions on Russia, Western countries led by the United States have turned to technology sanctions, mostly involving the semiconductor industry.

  When the Biden administration previously announced the sanctions, it said it would cut off more than half of Russia's imports of high-tech products, including chips, computers, telecommunications equipment, encrypted security equipment, lasers and sensors. The U.S. Department of Commerce also added 49 Russian entities to the U.S. Entity List, mainly involving military-industrial enterprises and scientific research institutions.

  At the same time, the United States announced that it will take export control measures against Russia in 7 areas, stipulating that even if the products produced outside the United States use software and designs that are subject to US export control, relevant products cannot be exported to Russia.

  SIA said: "The U.S. semiconductor industry is fully committed to complying with the new export control rules announced today in response to the deeply disturbing events in Ukraine. We are still reviewing the new rules to determine their impact on our industry. According to the World While the impact of the new rules on Russia could be significant, Russia is not a significant direct consumer of semiconductors, accounting for less than 0.1% of global chip purchases, according to the Semiconductor Trade Statistics Organization (WSTS). According to 2021 IDC data, in Of the $4.47 trillion global market, the broader Russian ICT (information and communication technology) market totals only about $50.3 billion.”

  The sanctions against Russia include items such as semiconductors, computers, sensors, navigation equipment, avionics, marine equipment and aircraft components under the commercial control list license, according to the export administration regulations announced by the United States. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Industry and Security said in the rule sheet that it would adopt two complex foreign product rules. This means that the U.S. government will not only restrict the supply of products directly produced by U.S. companies, but also those products produced outside the U.S. using U.S. technology. Exports are also restricted.

  After this, TSMC issued a statement saying that it will comply with U.S. export control measures: "TSMC has a strict export control system, including a robust evaluation and review process to ensure that export control regulations are followed." In addition, US chip makers GF, Intel, AMDetc. have also declared compliance with the sanctions.

  However, according to CNN, AppleThe company announced a few days ago that it has stopped selling all of its products in Russia. Apple also said it would suspend sales of Apple products in Russia and limit Apple Pay. In addition, apps from Russia Today and Sputnik have also been removed from the Apple App Store outside of Russia.

  Other leading smartphone OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in Russia are likely to join Apple in Russia in the coming days, said Woody Oh, an analyst at market research firm Strategy Analytics. If the current situation persists for a few weeks or months, the Russian smartphone market is likely to be severely affected, as Russia has been one of the top five countries in smartphone shipments and the top ten in smartphone revenue in recent years one of the countries.

  Spread to many parties

  Industry insiders believe that after Russia is sanctioned by technology such as the United States, it will naturally look for some alternatives. The commercialization foundation of the Russian semiconductor industry is weak. At present, there is no way to independently develop it, and it can only be purchased from other countries. Some Russian companies point to China as a potential seller. Prior to this, foreign media reported that if the West is reluctant to supply semiconductors to Russia, the fast-growing Chinese semiconductor industry may benefit from it.

  Wang Zhiwei told reporters that there is such a possibility, but it must be taken into account that the "Foreign Direct Product Rules" (FDPR) implemented by the United States on Russia is directly related to the previous US sanctions on Huawei. "Containing American technology" products are included in the jurisdiction of the chief justice of the United States. These products can only be exported to Russia with permission from the United States.

  It is worth noting that a total of 32 countries and territories are excluded from this restriction, including EU member states, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. These countries and regions are imposing sanctions on Russia. South Korea, Mainland China, India and Taiwan, which do not have separate sanctions, are also subject to the FDPR.

  A person in the semiconductor industry chain pointed out to reporters that from the US sanctions on Huawei, it can be seen that at present, it is still impossible for China to completely separate from US technology for the production of advanced process chips. Even the production of mature processes cannot be separated from American technology. Fortunately, according to the US sanctions, the export of some consumer-grade end products is not within the scope of restrictions, but the specific products have not been indicated, and domestic companies are still waiting to see.

keywords: semiconductor russian chip

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