Thu. Oct 6th, 2022

The fire of “lack of core” has been “burned” all the way from the automobile industry and the mobile phone industry to the home appliance industry.

According to media reports, Ai Xiaoming, the former president of Whirlpool China, publicly stated that the global chip shortage affects the home appliance industry. In March this year, Whirlpool received about 10% less chip deliveries than its orders;

Gan Jianguo, general manager of Philips Air Conditioning (China) Operations Headquarters, also told the media earlier that the chips on the computer boards of air conditioners have been in short supply since November last year, and the chip delivery cycle has been extended;

The Nikkei Chinese website recently reported that Saito Etsuro, president of the air-conditioning company Fujitsu General, said that he is waiting for an answer to the supply of microcontrollers (MCUs) after July.

This round of “chip-lack” crisis has made industry players from all walks of life further realize the importance of chips. In fact, many home appliance companies have already deployed the chip field through various means such as investment and self-research.

It can be seen that for home appliance companies, “core making” has become more and more important. So, how did these home appliance companies that entered the chip field progress?

01. Gree

Applied for 629 patents in the semiconductor field, and the annual output of 32-bit MCU exceeds 10 million

When it comes to self-developed chips by home appliance companies, many people first think of Gree. Although it is not the first home appliance company to “make cores”, it has announced its entry into the field of integrated circuits in a high-profile manner.

In May 2018, Dong Mingzhu, chairman of Gree Electric Appliances, resolutely stated in an interview with CCTV Finance Channel, “Even if it costs 50 billion yuan, Gree will succeed in chip research.” This attracted great attention from the industry at that time and intense discussion.

The new progress of “core-making” by home appliance giants, some with an annual output of 10 million and a shipment of over 100 million?

△Source: Screenshot of CCTV Finance Video

According to Gree’s disclosure, in 2015, Gree formed a team to start the research and development of microelectronic chips and power semiconductors, aiming to promote the rapid autonomy of Gree’s core basic components.

In 2017, Gree formally established the Microelectronics Department, which is affiliated to the Gree Communication Technology Research Institute. It has digital front-end/back-end, analog design, layout design, hardware design, software design and power device design covering all aspects of chip design Complete R&D team.

In August 2018, Gree Electric registered and established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Zhuhai Zero Boundary Integrated Circuit Co., Ltd. with a registered capital of 1 billion yuan. Its main business is chip design, mainly related to chips used in air conditioners.

So, how is Gree progressing in self-developed chips now?

According to Gree Electric’s 2020 financial report, Gree Electric’s research in the semiconductor field has made significant progress, and its self-developed chips and devices have been verified by mass production, realizing independent research and development of core technologies.

Gree Electric and its subsidiary Zhuhai Zero Boundary Integrated Circuit Co., Ltd. have applied for 629 patents in the field of semiconductor technology, including 202 authorized patents, 68 invention patents, 134 utility model patents, and 56 international patents.

Gree general-purpose industrial-grade 32-bit series MCU has been popularized and applied in Gree air conditioner series products, with an annual output of more than 10 million pieces, which can be widely used in consumer electronics, wearable devices, household products, health care equipment, large commercial units , industrial sensing, high-performance motor control and other fields.

Gree smart home series chips integrate high-performance AI computing power and embedded MCU to perform intelligent control for image recognition, human-computer interaction, motor drive, security encryption and other functions. And supporting provides a complete hardware and software solutions.

In addition to self-research, Gree has also made a series of investment layouts in the chip field, including Wingtech, the parent company of Nexperia Semiconductor, Sanan Optoelectronics, Hunan Guoxin Semiconductor, etc.

02. Konka

Mass production of storage main control chip products has formed, forming a layout of “design + packaging and testing + sales”

The time point also falls in 2018. In May 2018, Konka, a veteran home appliance company, also announced its entry into the semiconductor industry and established a semiconductor technology division, expressing its hope to “take 5-10 years to become one of the international excellent semiconductor companies, and to be committed to becoming China’s top ten semiconductor companies with annual revenue. over a billion”.

Konka’s semiconductor business is mainly deployed in the two fields of storage and optoelectronics. Among them, the storage field is mainly engaged in the design and sales of storage main control chips, as well as the packaging and testing of storage products; the optoelectronic field is currently mainly engaged in the research and development of Micro LED related products.

In November 2018, Konka officially registered and established Hefei Kangxinwei Storage Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Hefei Kangxinwei”). The company is mainly engaged in memory control chip design. It is the basic project of Konka Semiconductor Hefei Industrial Park and Konka Semiconductor Storage Business headquarters base.

In December 2019, Konka’s first storage main control chip KS6581A, developed by Hefei Kangxinwei, was mass-produced and shipped in the first batch of 100,000 units, mainly used in smartphones, tablet computers, smart TVs, set-top boxes, automotive electronics, etc.

In addition, in November 2019, Konka announced that Jiangsu planned to invest in the construction of a memory chip packaging and testing plant in Yancheng City to carry out packaging, testing and sales of memory chips. The main body of the project is Konka Xinying Semiconductor Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. The author established a wholly-owned subsidiary Konka Core Cloud Semiconductor Technology (Yancheng) Co., Ltd. in Yancheng.

In March 2020, Konka Group’s Yancheng memory chip packaging and testing project started, with an estimated total investment of about 1.082 billion yuan.

  The new progress of “core-making” by home appliance giants, some with an annual output of 10 million and a shipment of over 100 million?

△Source: Konka Group official website

According to the 2020 annual report of Konka Group, in the field of storage, the company has independently designed storage main control chip products to achieve mass production and sales; secondly, the company has developed nearly 45 embedded hardware and solid-state hard disk products, and achieved market sales; Actively promote the implementation of memory chip packaging and testing bases, and complete the layout of the “design + packaging and testing + sales” link in the storage industry.

According to a report by Jiangsu Satellite TV in early May, the Konka memory chip packaging and testing project in Yancheng High-tech Zone has completed the first phase of construction, the production line equipment has been debugged, and trial production has begun. Liu Jiahan, general manager of Konka Xinyun Semiconductor Technology (Yancheng) Co., Ltd., introduced that the entire project is expected to be fully put into operation in November.

In addition, in 2020, Konka established the Chongqing Kangxin Semiconductor Industry Equity Investment Fund, focusing on investing in semiconductors, integrated circuits and other industries related to the company’s industrial development.

03. TCL

Entered Zhonghuan and turned into a semiconductor wafer factory, investing in chip design and power devices

As a traditional home appliance company, TCL has been committed to strategic transformation in recent years, and the semiconductor field is an important track of its choice.

In December 2018, TCL Technology Group Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “TCL Technology”, once used the order “TCL Group Co., Ltd.”) announced the sale of its consumer electronics, home appliances and other smart terminal businesses and related supporting facilities to TCL Industrial Holdings (Guangdong). ) Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “TCL Industrial Holdings”), the transaction was completed in April 2019. After the transaction is completed, TCL Technology will focus on the semiconductor Display and material industries.

After the divestiture of the terminal business, TCL Technology began to enter the semiconductor field aggressively. In July 2020, TCL Technology announced the acquisition of 100% equity of Tianjin Zhonghuan Electronic Information Group Co., Ltd., officially entering the field of semiconductors and semiconductor photovoltaics. The acquisition completed asset delivery in September 2020 and consolidated operations in October.

According to TCL Technology’s 2020 annual report, TCL Technology’s 8-inch and 12-inch semiconductor silicon wafer products are fully benchmarked against international leading products. The product performance and quality have been highly recognized by leading domestic and foreign customers, and the production lines that have been put into production have achieved full production. The first quarterly report shows that the production and sales scale of silicon wafers for integrated circuit products, mainly 8-inch and 12-inch, continues to grow rapidly, the verification of domestic and foreign strategic customers is accelerated, and the production capacity of the 8-12-inch large silicon wafer project for integrated circuits in Yixing, Jiangsu is climbing Well, it is already in a state of short supply.

TCL directly cuts into the field of semiconductor silicon wafers through mergers and acquisitions, and is also laying out the fields of chip design and power devices.

In March 2021, TCL Technology and TCL Industrial Holdings jointly established TCL Semiconductor Technology (Guangdong) Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “TCL Semiconductor”) with a registered capital of 1 billion yuan. According to TCL Technology Announcement, TCL Semiconductor will serve as its semiconductor business platform to make investment layouts around industrial development opportunities in integrated circuit chip design, semiconductor power devices and other fields.

 The new progress of “core-making” by home appliance giants, some with an annual output of 10 million and a shipment of over 100 million?

△Source: Screenshot of the company’s data

Among them, in the field of chip design, TCL Semiconductor will focus on the development of chip categories with large demand in upstream and downstream related industries, such as driver chips and AI voice chips, and promote the production of special-purpose chip products. In the field of semiconductor power devices, TCL Semiconductor plans to further expand production capacity, improve the core technical capabilities of the device business, and take the lead in breaking through the market.

In addition, TCL Technology and TCL Industrial Holdings jointly established TCL Microchip Technology (Guangdong) Co., Ltd. in May this year, and TCL Industrial Holdings established Moxing Semiconductor (Guangdong) Co., Ltd. in March this year, both of which involve chip design. and other business.

04. Beautiful

IPM has formed a “self-made + foundry” model, and Meiren chips have gradually entered the stage of mass sales

In response to the problem of “lack of chips” in home appliances, Midea Group previously stated that there is no such situation at present, because some chips can be supplied by themselves.

In addition, Midea has also achieved certain results in chip layout.

According to the relevant person of Midea, Midea established the IPM (Intelligent Power Module) project team in 2010. In 2011, it began to independently develop IPM hand-made samples. In 2012, it developed an IPM with IMS architecture; In 2015, Midea’s self-developed IPM production exceeded one million pieces per year; in 2017, Midea built an IPM foundry and officially entered the “self-made + foundry” development model.

In 2018, Midea Central Research Institute established an IPM technology laboratory to carry out IPM business for the whole group, extending from air conditioners to refrigerators, washing machines and other fields. In April 2019, Midea revealed to the public that its variable frequency drive IPM module for household air conditioners has achieved mass production.

In addition to IPM, Midea is also laying out other home appliance chips.

In December 2018, Midea Group established Shanghai Meiren Semiconductor Co., Ltd., an indirect holding subsidiary, focusing on the development of home appliance chips, and laying out four product series: MCU chips, IoT chips, power chips, and power chips.

The new progress of “core-making” by home appliance giants, some with an annual output of 10 million and a shipment of over 100 million?

△Source: Midea Group official website

In March this year, at the Midea Group booth at the 2021 China Home Appliances and Consumer Electronics Expo, Meiren Semiconductor unveiled its main control MCU chip, touch MCU chip, frequency conversion MCU chip, main control, touch, display, motor control integrated chip and other products.

It is understood that Meiren Semiconductor is affiliated to the electromechanical business group of Midea Group. Midea disclosed to the media that Meiren Semiconductor has completed product testing in the Midea Group’s household air conditioners, HVAC and buildings, refrigerators, washing machines, kitchens and hot water divisions. Gradually enter the stage of mass sales, and in 2021, it will lay out chip products in depth, gradually covering domestic and foreign customers.

In January this year, Midea Group and Foshan Midea Air Conditioning Industrial Investment Co., Ltd. jointly established another chip company, Meiken Semiconductor Technology Co., Ltd., with the legal representative of Yin Bitong and the registered capital of 200 million yuan. The business scope includes: integrated circuit chips and products Manufacturing, integrated circuit chip and product sales, power electronic components manufacturing, semiconductor discrete device manufacturing, etc.

In addition to self-developed chips, Midea also cooperates with other semiconductor companies. Including the establishment of “Midea-Brite (SMIC) Semiconductor Joint Laboratory” with Brite Semiconductor and the establishment of the third-generation semiconductor laboratory with Xiamen Sanan Integrated Circuit Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Sanan Optoelectronics.

  The new progress of “core-making” by home appliance giants, some with an annual output of 10 million and a shipment of over 100 million?

△Source: Brite Semiconductor official website

On June 11, Midea Group said in an investigation that the company is actively deploying chips for household appliances, and its products cover chip technologies in related fields such as MCU, power, power supply, and IoT.

05. Hisense

The cumulative shipment of TV TCON chips has reached 100 million, with a global share of more than 50%

Comparatively speaking, Hisense is a little low-key, but it is an early domestic home appliance company involved in chip research and development.

It is understood that Hisense has started chip research and development as early as 2000. In 2005, it successfully developed China’s first digital video processing chip “Xinxin” with independent intellectual property rights and industrialization. In 2015, Hisense cooperated with Loongson to launch the 4K120Hz high-end image quality processing chip “Hi-ViewPro”, and in 2018 iteratively launched the third-generation ultra-high-definition image quality processing chip “Xinxin” H3.

At the end of 2017, Hisense acquired Toshiba Imaging of Japan and integrated the Toshiba image quality chip design team. In June 2019, Hisense further integrated the chip R&D team, integrated the company’s original chip department and Shanghai Hongyou Company, and jointly invested 500 million yuan with Qingdao Microelectronics Innovation Center Co., Ltd. to establish Qingdao Xinxin Microelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. (now known as Qingdao Xinxin Microelectronics Technology Co., Ltd.). “Qingdao Xinxin Microelectronics Technology Co., Ltd.”).

At the beginning of this year, Yu Zhitao, president of Hisense Video, revealed at CES 2021 that Hisense will officially mass-produce 4K 120Hz stacked screen custom chips in 2021. This is the industry’s first single-chip solution that supports MiniLED direct-lit backlight control with more than 5,000 partitions. At the same time, it will also mass-produce 8K 120Hz image quality processing chips, AI SoC intelligent voice chips, and AI vision SoC chips.

 The new progress of “core-making” by home appliance giants, some with an annual output of 10 million and a shipment of over 100 million?

△Source: Hisense official WeChat

According to the news disclosed by Hisense in late February this year, in 2020, Xinxin Micro’s screen driver chip (TCON) products under Hisense Video have covered all products from HD to 8K UHD, and the annual TV TCON chip shipments exceeded 40 million pieces, the cumulative shipment has reached 100 million pieces, and the current global share exceeds 50%.

Epilogue

Once upon a time, the cross-border entry of traditional home appliance companies into semiconductors was controversial, but these home appliance companies that embarked on the road of “chip making” persevered and made phased progress one after another, and began to gradually become one of the forces promoting the localization of chips. . Of course, to fully achieve chip self-sufficiency, home appliance companies still have a long way to go in the future.

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