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                  缺芯“唤醒”汽车厂商,车载芯片有望大升级

                  缺芯“唤醒”汽车厂商,车载芯片有望大升级

                  Christiaan Hetzner 2021年09月22日
                  如今,车用芯片供应短缺,芯片厂商希望借此“叫醒”汽车厂商,更新到2010年代的技术。

                  我们的日常生活都离不开电子电路,而汽车是全世界最昂贵的消费品,但与此同时,汽车使用的可能却是最廉价的半导体芯片。

                  芯片会日益微型化的摩尔定律,似乎从未在汽车行业中出现。从电子制动系统到安全气囊控制模块,汽车中的数十枚芯片使用的似乎都是十多年前的过时技术。这些芯片使用的晶体管相对简单,尺寸可能还停留在45纳米到90纳米,这些晶体管的尺寸过大,设计过于老旧,不适合今天的智能手机。

                  新冠疫情爆发之后,汽车等大件商品的换新需求下降,但各类家用设备却销量骤增。几个月后,汽车市场开始反弹,但芯片厂商早早就已经完成了产能再分配。

                  如今,车用芯片供应短缺,芯片厂商希望借此“叫醒”汽车厂商,更新到2010年代的技术。

                  英特尔(Intel)的首席执行官帕特·基辛格上周在德国参加汽车行业贸易展期间告诉《财富》杂志:“我会按照他们的需求生产尽可能多的英特尔16纳米芯片。”

                  汽车厂商纷纷要求他投资新半导体产能,采用第一代苹果(Apple)iPhone手机发布时最先进的设计。

                  基辛格称:“这在经济或战略上都没有意义。”他参加汽车贸易展的目的是说服汽车厂商淘汰早已过时的技术。“不必在这些新的‘旧’芯片上花几十亿美元,我们只需要投入几百万美元,帮助更新换代到现代化的设计。”

                  汽车芯片落后之谜

                  汽车厂商要为不同零部件采购芯片,给供应商带来了巨大的成本压力,这也是为什么汽车厂商往往会使用体积较大的现货处理器的根本原因。但这并不是唯一的原因:可靠性也是一个重要的考虑。

                  大部分车载系统安全性至关重要,必须能够在几乎任何情况下运行,无论温度、湿度、震动,甚至路面上微小的碎石都不能对其产生影响。安全性如此重要,因此经过考验证明可靠的芯片,比不断完善的新芯片更符合汽车厂商的需求。

                  基辛格解释说:“汽车厂商的选择很大程度上是因为这些芯片都是经受过检验的设计。”他目前正在欧洲为建设最先进的芯片晶圆厂争取补贴。

                  与英特尔不同,高通(Qualcomm)无法通过投资扩大产能来提供直接帮助。这家美国公司属于无工厂芯片制造商,这意味着它主要通过专业外包制造商(即晶圆代工厂)生产半导体,而这恰恰是高通面临的最严重的制约因素。

                  高通欧洲(Qualcomm Europe)的总裁恩里科·萨尔瓦托里在接受采访时指出:“对晶圆代工厂而言,投资旧技术没有太大吸引力,因为很快就会升级到新技术。”

                  他也在与汽车行业合作,以加快技术转变,但他承认这并不是一项简单的任务。

                  萨尔瓦托里表示:“新技术并不是引脚到引脚兼容,也并非即插即用。你必须重新设计电路,生产新电路板,这可能需要重新认证;或许还会对机械方面产生影响,进而影响到汽车的底盘。所以,技术转变会产生多米诺骨牌效应。”

                  供应紧张

                  早在2020年12月,就已经有迹象预示着即将出现芯片供应紧张,但最初人们的猜测是,随着芯片厂商开始恢复生产汽车芯片,这些问题只会对汽车生产造成短期影响。由于芯片上的纳米电路需要经过一系列漫长的生产步骤印制在硅衬底上,每个步骤需要几周时间,因此芯片的交货时间通常要六个月。

                  一系列不相干的事件限制了芯片晶圆原材料供应,加剧了芯片短缺。首先是冬季的寒流导致英飞凌(Infineon)、恩智浦(NXP)和三星(Samsung)在美国得克萨斯州的芯片晶圆厂接连停电,之后日本供应商瑞萨电子(Renesas Electronics Corporation)在今年3月遭遇大火,使问题变得更加复杂。最后,新冠疫情使马来西亚和越南的下游供应受阻。这些地区工资较低,芯片在这里完成封装并最终发货。

                  因此,据市场调研机构AutoForecast Solutions表示,全球汽车行业可能减产高达940万辆,超过了新冠疫情之前汽车总产量的十分之一。

                  大众集团(Volkswagen Group)的采购总监穆拉特·阿克塞尔上周在慕尼黑召开的一次新闻发布会上说:“由于一枚价值50美分的芯片,导致我们无法生产一辆售价5万美元的汽车。”

                  然而,如果英特尔和高通等芯片供应商得偿所愿,汽车行业依赖廉价现货芯片的日子将屈指可数。(财富中文网)

                  译者:刘进龙

                  审校:汪皓

                  我们的日常生活都离不开电子电路,而汽车是全世界最昂贵的消费品,但与此同时,汽车使用的可能却是最廉价的半导体芯片。

                  芯片会日益微型化的摩尔定律,似乎从未在汽车行业中出现。从电子制动系统到安全气囊控制模块,汽车中的数十枚芯片使用的似乎都是十多年前的过时技术。这些芯片使用的晶体管相对简单,尺寸可能还停留在45纳米到90纳米,这些晶体管的尺寸过大,设计过于老旧,不适合今天的智能手机。

                  新冠疫情爆发之后,汽车等大件商品的换新需求下降,但各类家用设备却销量骤增。几个月后,汽车市场开始反弹,但芯片厂商早早就已经完成了产能再分配。

                  如今,车用芯片供应短缺,芯片厂商希望借此“叫醒”汽车厂商,更新到2010年代的技术。

                  英特尔(Intel)的首席执行官帕特·基辛格上周在德国参加汽车行业贸易展期间告诉《财富》杂志:“我会按照他们的需求生产尽可能多的英特尔16纳米芯片。”

                  汽车厂商纷纷要求他投资新半导体产能,采用第一代苹果(Apple)iPhone手机发布时最先进的设计。

                  基辛格称:“这在经济或战略上都没有意义。”他参加汽车贸易展的目的是说服汽车厂商淘汰早已过时的技术。“不必在这些新的‘旧’芯片上花几十亿美元,我们只需要投入几百万美元,帮助更新换代到现代化的设计。”

                  汽车芯片落后之谜

                  汽车厂商要为不同零部件采购芯片,给供应商带来了巨大的成本压力,这也是为什么汽车厂商往往会使用体积较大的现货处理器的根本原因。但这并不是唯一的原因:可靠性也是一个重要的考虑。

                  大部分车载系统安全性至关重要,必须能够在几乎任何情况下运行,无论温度、湿度、震动,甚至路面上微小的碎石都不能对其产生影响。安全性如此重要,因此经过考验证明可靠的芯片,比不断完善的新芯片更符合汽车厂商的需求。

                  基辛格解释说:“汽车厂商的选择很大程度上是因为这些芯片都是经受过检验的设计。”他目前正在欧洲为建设最先进的芯片晶圆厂争取补贴。

                  与英特尔不同,高通(Qualcomm)无法通过投资扩大产能来提供直接帮助。这家美国公司属于无工厂芯片制造商,这意味着它主要通过专业外包制造商(即晶圆代工厂)生产半导体,而这恰恰是高通面临的最严重的制约因素。

                  高通欧洲(Qualcomm Europe)的总裁恩里科·萨尔瓦托里在接受采访时指出:“对晶圆代工厂而言,投资旧技术没有太大吸引力,因为很快就会升级到新技术。”

                  他也在与汽车行业合作,以加快技术转变,但他承认这并不是一项简单的任务。

                  萨尔瓦托里表示:“新技术并不是引脚到引脚兼容,也并非即插即用。你必须重新设计电路,生产新电路板,这可能需要重新认证;或许还会对机械方面产生影响,进而影响到汽车的底盘。所以,技术转变会产生多米诺骨牌效应。”

                  供应紧张

                  早在2020年12月,就已经有迹象预示着即将出现芯片供应紧张,但最初人们的猜测是,随着芯片厂商开始恢复生产汽车芯片,这些问题只会对汽车生产造成短期影响。由于芯片上的纳米电路需要经过一系列漫长的生产步骤印制在硅衬底上,每个步骤需要几周时间,因此芯片的交货时间通常要六个月。

                  一系列不相干的事件限制了芯片晶圆原材料供应,加剧了芯片短缺。首先是冬季的寒流导致英飞凌(Infineon)、恩智浦(NXP)和三星(Samsung)在美国得克萨斯州的芯片晶圆厂接连停电,之后日本供应商瑞萨电子(Renesas Electronics Corporation)在今年3月遭遇大火,使问题变得更加复杂。最后,新冠疫情使马来西亚和越南的下游供应受阻。这些地区工资较低,芯片在这里完成封装并最终发货。

                  因此,据市场调研机构AutoForecast Solutions表示,全球汽车行业可能减产高达940万辆,超过了新冠疫情之前汽车总产量的十分之一。

                  大众集团(Volkswagen Group)的采购总监穆拉特·阿克塞尔上周在慕尼黑召开的一次新闻发布会上说:“由于一枚价值50美分的芯片,导致我们无法生产一辆售价5万美元的汽车。”

                  然而,如果英特尔和高通等芯片供应商得偿所愿,汽车行业依赖廉价现货芯片的日子将屈指可数。(财富中文网)

                  译者:刘进龙

                  审校:汪皓

                  When it comes to the electronic circuits that power our everyday lives, the automobile is simultaneously the world’s most expensive consumer good and the one that runs on the cheapest possible semiconductor chips.

                  Moore’s law of ever-increasing miniaturization seemingly never reached the automotive industry. Dozens of chips found in everything from electronic brake systems to airbag control units tend to rely on obsolete technology often well over a decade old. These employ comparatively simple transistors that can be anywhere from 45 nanometers to as much as 90 nanometers in size, far too large—and too primitive—to be suitable for today’s smartphones.

                  When the pandemic hit, replacement demand for big-ticket items like new cars was pushed back while sales of all kinds of home devices soared. When the car market roared back months later, chipmakers had already reallocated their capacity.

                  Now these processors are in short supply, and chipmakers are telling car companies to wake up and finally join the 2010s.

                  “I’ll make them as many Intel 16 [nanometer] chips as they want,” Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger told Fortune last week during his visit to an auto industry trade show in Germany.

                  Carmakers have bombarded him with requests to invest in brand-new production capacity for semiconductors featuring designs that, at best, were state of the art when the first Apple iPhone launched.

                  “It just makes no economic or strategic sense,” said Gelsinger, who came to the auto show to convince carmakers they need to let go of the distant past. “Rather than spending billions on new ‘old’ fabs, let’s spend millions to help migrate designs to modern ones.”

                  The “why” of car chips

                  The brutal cost pressure carmakers exert on their suppliers, which source the chips for their various components, is certainly part of the reason why the processors they use tend to be bulk commodity products. But it isn’t the only one: Reliability plays a major concern.

                  Most systems in cars are safety-critical and need to perform in practically every situation regardless of temperature, humidity, vibrations, and even minor road debris. With so much at stake, tried and true is better than new and improved.

                  “A lot of it just has to do with the fact that these are proven designs,” explained Gelsinger, who is currently campaigning for subsidies to build the most advanced chip fab in Europe.

                  Unlike Intel, Qualcomm cannot directly help by investing in the expansion of capacity. Instead the U.S. company is a fab-less chipmaker, meaning it is reliant on dedicated contract manufacturers called foundries that build its semiconductors for it—and that’s precisely where the bottleneck is most acute.

                  "For the foundries, investing in the old technology is much less attractive, because sooner or later there will be a migration to the new technology," Enrico Salvatori, president of Qualcomm Europe, said in an interview.

                  He is also working with the car industry to accelerate the transition, but he concedes it’s not an easy fix.

                  “The new technologies are not pin-to-pin compatible, it’s not plug and play,” Salvatori said. “You have to redesign the circuit, build a new board that might have to be recertified; maybe there’s some impact on the mechanical side that then could affect the car’s chassis. So there is a domino effect of action needed.”

                  Supply crunch

                  The first warning signs over a coming chip supply crunch came in December 2020, but the problems were initially expected to only affect car production for a short period of time, as chipmakers turned their production back toward the automakers. Lead times of six months are often required as the nanoscopic circuitry on a chip is printed on silicon substrates in a series of painstakingly long production steps that require weeks.

                  The shortage only became acute following a chain of unrelated events that limited supplies of raw chip wafers right at the source. First, a winter cold snap caused rolling blackouts at Texas chip fabs operated by Infineon, NXP, and Samsung, before a freak fire in March at key Japanese supplier Renesas compounded the problem. Finally a COVID outbreak brought downstream supply to a halt in Malaysia and Vietnam, a low-wage hub where chips are packaged into finished products for final shipping.

                  As a result, as many as 9.4 million cars, or more than a tenth of the industry’s pre-pandemic output, could be eliminated from production plans, according to market research firm AutoForecast Solutions.

                  “Because of a 50-cent chip, we are unable to build a car that sells for $50,000,” said Murat Aksel, head of procurement for Volkswagen Group, during a press briefing in Munich last week.

                  If semiconductor suppliers like Intel and Qualcomm have their way, however, the days of the auto industry relying on these cheap commodity chips are numbered.

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