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Taiwan-China | 2022

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From "electricity" to "light"! The first domestic multi-material photonic chip production line will be completed next year​

The computing speed is about 1,000 times faster than that of electronic chips, but the power consumption is lower - photonic chips have become the frontier industry that countries are competing to lay out. With the upgrading and iteration of chip technology, photonic chips are expected to become the underlying technical support of a new generation of information fields, which is giving birth to a large number of new applications and new industries, and has huge market prospects. The reporter learned from Zhongguancun cutting-edge technology enterprise Zhongke Xintong that the first "multi-material, cross-size" photonic chip production line in China is expected to be completed in Beijing in 2023, filling the gap in the field of photonic chip wafer foundry in China.

The chip industry is moving towards "light"
In layman's terms, in traditional electronic chips, the carrier of data transmission is electrons, while in optical chips, the carrier of data transmission becomes photons. Compared with electronic chips, photonic chips have the advantages of high-speed parallelism and low power consumption, and their computing speed and transmission rate are 1,000 times that of electronic chips, and the power consumption is only one ninety-thousandth of that of electronic chips.
In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore proposed Moore's Law, predicting that every 18 to 24 months, the transistor density of chips would double. Since then, Moore's Law has not only become the manufacturing criterion for computer processors, but also to some extent seen as a prophecy of the development of the technology industry. However, after decades of development of silicon-based electronic chips, the carrying capacity has approached the limits of physical theory. The emergence of photonic chips is seen as one of the important ways to break through Moore's Law.
A senior practitioner in the chip industry introduced that when electrons pass through traditional integrated circuit components such as transistors, they will encounter resistance and generate heat. As designers continue to add more components to the chip, the heat generated naturally increases. This feature of electronics has even become an obstacle to the performance of microchips, and it is also the main reason for the high energy consumption of computers. In contrast, photonic chips have no resistance problems, so they generate less heat, consume less energy, and calculate faster.
Gartner, a global authoritative IT consulting company, predicts that by 2025, the global optical chip market is expected to reach 56.1 billion US dollars (equivalent to about 404.116 billion yuan). Luo Yi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and professor at Tsinghua University, previously said in an interview with the media that China's optoelectronic chip research is "running side by side" with the international advanced level.
It is worth noting that in the manufacturing process, photonic chips do not have as strict structural requirements as electronic chips. "Photonic chips will not have to use extremely high-end lithography machines such as extreme ultraviolet lithography machines (EUVs) like electronic chips, and can be produced using China's relatively mature raw materials and equipment." Sui Jun, president of Zhongke Xintong Microelectronics Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., who has more than 20 years of experience in the chip industry, said.
Multi-material production lines are expected to fill the gap
Because of the many advantages of photonic chips, the conversion of chips from "electricity" to "light" is regarded as one of the important technical routes for domestic chips to achieve breakthroughs. The report of the 13th Party Congress of Beijing mentioned that "the forward-looking layout of future industries around optoelectronics, life sciences, low-carbon technology and other fields".
In the exhibition hall of Zhongke Xintong, the reporter saw photonic chip wafers of different sizes. "After a series of processes such as cutting, the processed wafer becomes a chip." Sui Jun said that unlike the silicon wafers used to make electronic chips, although the substrate of photonic chip wafers is also silicon, the substrate is also covered with a layer of silicon nitride or thin film lithium niobate and other special optoelectronic materials.
Before founding Zhongke Xintong, Sui Jun had deeply realized that domestic enterprises were still in the stage of making up for shortcomings in integrated circuits. "In the field of electronic chips, even with the same equipment and materials, the performance indicators of chips produced by different chip foundries are very different. The barrier lies in the process. He said that the current development of the photonic chip industry has not got rid of the situation that the scale of design and application is large, and the strength in basic fields such as equipment, manufacturing, packaging and testing is weak.
So far, there is no professional photonic chip foundry enterprise in China, and the domestic photonic chip industry has not yet formed a mature design, foundry, packaging and testing industry chain. Sui Jun revealed that Zhongke Xintong is currently preparing to build the first "multi-material, cross-dimensional" photonic chip production line in China, which will be completed in 2023, which can meet the market demand in communications, data centers, lidar, microwave photonics, medical testing and other fields. After the completion of the production line, it will fill the gap in the field of photonic chip foundry in China, and is expected to accelerate the large-scale process of domestic photonic chip replacement.
The future of photonic chip applications can be expected
In addition to communication, power supply, temperature and humidity sensing, the chip can also be used for virus detection. A month ago, on the stage of the final of the integrated circuit field of the Zhongguancun Frontier Competition, the biophotonic chip project displayed by Sui Jun at the scene opened up many people's imagination space for chips. By coating a virus-sensitive reagent on a photonic chip optical waveguide, the type and content of viral biomolecules can be analyzed.
Biodetection is just one of many applications for photonic chips. In recent years, the application scenarios of photonic chips have long been not limited to the field of communication, and photonic chips in a broad sense have a wide range of applications in industry, consumer electronics, automobiles, national defense and other fields. For example, in the field of artificial intelligence, photonic chips can be used in automatic driving, voice recognition, image recognition, medical diagnosis, virtual reality, etc. In addition, today's cloud computing and data centers have adopted a large number of optical transceiver modules based on photonic chips, and as the demand for computing power in data centers increases, photonic chips are also expected to play a greater role.
"In the next two to three years, we will make full use of existing scientific research achievements to provide reliable domestic core chips and solution support in fields such as virus rapid detection, lidar, quantum computers, large-capacity data communications, etc., and accelerate the practical and large-scale development of domestic quantum information, artificial intelligence and 6G and other frontier fields." Sui Jun said.

Meanwhile in Germany:
Olaf Scholz permits Chinese access to critical German Infrastructure in the Port of Hamburg. Cosco Company is allowed to taking stake of 24.9% in the important Port.

German spy chief has warned that China buys into strategic industries in order to exert pressure.
Despite warnings from intelligence agencies, Germany's government is set to approve a Chinese takeover of a German company's microchips production facility.

German outlet Handelsblatt reported Thursday that the deal — which would see a takeover of the semiconductor production of Dortmund-based Elmos by Sweden's Silex, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's Sai Microelectronics — was set to get the green light against security advice.

The deal is currently being reviewed by the German economy ministry. A final decision on approval is expected within the next few weeks.

Europe — and Germany in particular — has been grappling with its reliance on autocratic third countries for critical infrastructure, after its dependency on Russian energy was exposed by Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine.

The reports come only days after the German government gave the green light to Chinese state-owned shipping giant Cosco buying a foothold in a container port in Hamburg. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz not only ignored warnings from the EU but also from six of his own federal ministries, including the Greens' Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck.

Elmos is one of Germany's smaller semiconductor companies, which mainly produces chips for the automotive industry. Silex plans to take over the plant for €85 million. Elmos will use the investment to give up its own production and instead process chips bought from contract manufacturers.

We see another sellout of German Interests sponsored by SPD. After Schröders legendary Gas Deal with his best friend Putin.
Good Job, Mr Scholz. Hope you enjoy your money!
Meanwhile in Germany:
Olaf Scholz permits Chinese access to critical German Infrastructure in the Port of Hamburg. Cosco Company is allowed to taking stake of 24.9% in the important Port.

We see another sellout of German Interests sponsored by SPD. After Schröders legendary Gas Deal with his best friend Putin.
Good Job, Mr Scholz. Hope you enjoy your money!
Thats dumm son of a b***h need to be banned from the government... they're going to ruin our beautiful country
Thats dumm son of a b***h need to be banned from the government... they're going to ruin our beautiful country
IMHO nearly the whole Government should be banned and charged with treason. Including some of the opposition. Some of their TV Bosses too.

Do not get me wrong, some of them are doing a good job under the given circumstances. For example Habeck (sometimes) or even Hofreiter (yes, sometimes), but parts of the actual Government are acting weird at least. We have Ministers, who sympathize open with extremists and so called "activists". The Actors of the state TV are doing that too. The so called opposition are nothing more than Putin's fifth column. Especially the AfD and Die Linke.
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