back to article Where there's a will, there's Huawei to develop one's own chipmaking kit

A sprawling industrial complex being built by Huawei near Shanghai will be used to research and develop chipmaking equipment to help the tech giant overcome restrictions imposed on it by the US, local sources are reportedly saying. China's technology behemoth is building an R&D center in Qingpu District, Shanghai, scheduled to …

  1. Phil Kingston

    The market's gonna reap what the US ban sowed. And it won't end well for the established players.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love every time China says they made something equivalent to an M68K The Register goes "haha a lot of good that ban did".

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Quite apart from the fact you do some really good work with smaller processors (which are likely to be RISC-V anyway) the Chinese have been doing quite well with small geometry semiconductors.

      The thing we don't see to get is that there's not only a lot of 'em but they're also educating as many as possible -- they're turning out about 35,000 engineers a year. They're not all going to be designing semiconductors or process equipment but since their industrial policy aims to develop higher value jobs there's a good chance that they will become a very significant competitor in the very near future.

      We're going to lose out simply because we don't have an industrial policy. We expect a trained workforce to just materialize out of thin air. This isn't how things work, we've only got away with it because we've had all the money so if you want to start an enterprise here (the US and especially CA) has been the place to be. We've got competition now -- China's got the capital, the infrastructure and resources to move at speed. We have to have the same focus -- just saying "its not fair" because they've got the focus while we'll playing casino games in our financial markets isn't going to work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The chip market is a lot more than just engineers and fabs, it's a global economics issue.

        I feel like someone in the past has probably said the same thing your comment says about the soviet union. And ironically, China is playing the same game they did (copying technology instead of inventing it, etc.)

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Look at the papers being published, the patents being filed and so on -- Chinese people are everywhere. This old saw about "they don't invent, they just copy us" is just racist nonsense. If you look around a typical high tech company in, say, California (where I live/work) then you'll find that many -- often, most -- of the workforce are either from China or of Chinese descent.

          Honestly, people need to get out more.

          (PS -- The Russians are not so much of a contender because there's only 150 million or so of them. They're still capable of doing really good work, though.)

      2. EricB123 Silver badge

        Out of thin air, at 5% interest

        "We expect a trained workforce to just materialize out of thin air."

        No, no, no. Not out of thin air, but by potential future engineers mortgaging their futures by taking out massive amounts of student loans. Capitalism at work.

      3. Schultz

        Educated workforce out of thin air ...

        The US has a real problem because some wealthy elements of society figured out how to game the political system to protect their privileges. The result is an education system that favors the rich over the smart and motivated, a tax system that collects from the working classes and allows the rich to evade taxes.

        The good news it that the US is a democracy and the system can (hopefully) be fixed without massive turmoil once the problems become too big to ignore. The New Deal showed how the democratic system can work. China, OTOH, has no proven system to resolve societal conflict. They depend on a ruling class that may or may not follow enlightened ideals. The cultural revolution showed how that system can go astray.

        Let's just hope that the US democracy survives the next showdown between the moneyed and the rest. Make no mistake, the Trump phenomenon is a symptom of a dysfunctional society, where the disconnect between the wealthy and the rest got out of control. In Trump, the wealthy found their piper to lead the discontented into the wilderness. But a decade or two in the future, Trump will be gone and the problems will have to be addressed. Let's hope they manage without bloody turmoil.

        Equally, we may hope that the Communist party in China finds a way to improve governance and strengthen democratic elements within and outside their party. Unfortunately, their current leader seems to be more of a Führer than an enlightened party leader, so we may have to be patient to see any positives out of China.

        1. Zardoz2293

          Re: Educated workforce out of thin air ...

          The term you are seeking to describe your comment regarding the USA is CORRUPTION, the destroyer of everything.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Can't wait to buy DIY chip making kit from AliExpress one day.

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    That which does not kill me...

    ... makes me stronger.

    This is an excellent example of that very old expression. Effectively, the US led action is driving China's development.

    1. tmTM

      Re: That which does not kill me...

      Development is an odd word when they've clearly just stolen the information needed to build the kit.

      and the country wonders why it's got such a rotten reputation in this area??

      1. collinsl Bronze badge

        Re: That which does not kill me...

        Yes, but now they have it the question is what do we do about it now? Try and restrict them when all the good it'll do is make them make it themselves faster, or something else? Or nothing? Not suggesting I have any answers, just that there are big questions there.

  5. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Middle finger

    This is obviously a middle-finger towards the West, as Huawei's push into chip-making equipment is entirely funded by the Chinese government.

    And ASML deserve to get burned by preferring "international talent" over paying more to attract the best European or national engineers. It was pretty obvious from the start that China would sent their engineers over to ASML to take a look how these machines are made. And lo and behold Huawei are hiring people which have job-experience at ASML and Applied Materials, two Western companies which are leading in their field.

    The Western shortsightedness will eventually do us in.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Middle finger

      "ASML deserve to get burned by preferring "international talent" over paying more to attract the best European or national engineers"

      Do they though? ASML is definitely paying very good wages (compared to the rest of the industry sector) to all takers. It's simply suffering from a lack of available European talent to begin with. So it needs to look at international talent to fill it's requirements.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Middle finger

        ASML is definitely paying very good wages

        Are they?

        It's simply suffering from a lack of available European talent to begin with.

        Well, this happens if you don't pay very good wages.

        People have no incentive to get to the field and those who are experts, tend to also be experts in other fields that pay them more.

    2. John Savard

      Re: Middle finger

      Well, those engineers are being very silly. Now they will have to live the rest of their lives in the totalitarian People's Republic of China. No amount of money is worth that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @John Savard - Re: Middle finger

        Oh, but they will have fame, recognition and of course money. Try to get rid of that image of exploited, abused workers that has been implanted into your brain. I've spend about half of my life under a totalitarian, Communist regime so I'm immune to all sorts of propaganda and, trust me or not, your vision about China is flawed.

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Middle finger

        to live the rest of their lives in the totalitarian People's Republic of China.

        Most countries are totalitarian, some just are better at keeping the façade pretending they aren't.

        If you travelled more, you would probably learn that everywhere in the world is very much the same, because people are the same.

        Sure there are exceptions, where certain regions are still enslaved in sort of medieval style and have not figured the way out of it yet. But China is not the one, at least not whole.

      3. OculusMentis

        Re: Middle finger

        You clearly have never been in China…

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The benefits of free trade were only meant to work one way, damn it! We get to do the fun, cushy, well paying jobs of designing and managing, while they do the dirty and dangerous parts of actually building things. That was the deal! Now you tell me the Chinese are actually *competing* in high tech industries???

    No, this can not stand! Sanctions! Sanction them!!! They exist only to be our workforce, put them back in their place!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not sure the "/s" applies here TBH. That's a pretty accurate summary of certain politicians' statements.

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    Nothing of the sort

    "a low-tech method called self-aligned quadruple patterning (SAQP)"

    There is nothing low-tech about SAQP. It may be done on machines of an older node, but it most certainly isn't easy or low-tech. Quite frankly it's probably HARDER to do SAQP than to do it via more normal processes on state-of-the-art EUV systems. The big advantages that EUV systems have over multi-patterning is speed, yield and density. multi-patterning allows for smaller features but at the cost of more distance between those features and requiring a lot more masks and exposures to achieve the end result (and thus suffers poor yield). Getting it to work with any yield at all is already a challenge to begin with. Doing so on production is never going to be quite cost competitive with EUV I suspect. But it's a metaphorical middle finger to the west. And that's probably the only reason they're doing it.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Does it have to make economic sense? Or can they afford to produce a lot more chips and throw away the duff ones?

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "7nm homegrown processor produced by chipmaker SMIC, which Washington had not believed Chinese companies were capable of producing"

    Maybe they weren't without the incentive of sanctions.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      All sanctions did was mess with the build/buy tradeoff. Back before we started this trade war the Chinese were busy developing global businesses using global supply chains with companies buying what it didn't make business sense to build. Once we made it difficult for them to buy then it makes business sense to build. Its what we call in the US a "National Security" issue -- its a bit like our CHIPs legislation except they've got a whole lot more resources they can invest and mobilize than us.

      Our hubris makes it difficult to conceive that they can achieve what they need to do. Of course they will. It might take a bit of time but, again, its a "National Security" issue, they have no alternative but to succeed. The danger for us that they're going to be producing next generation technology -- they know all the shortcomings and deficiencies of current processes, the sort of thing that creeps into any complex development, and will design them out.

  9. Strong as Taishan Mountains

    Western states used to have industrial policy.

    But it's ok, now we have lolbertarians and Thatcherite finances! The Chinese have to build a whole factory to get a few billion in GDP, we only have to sell off our water supply company and then sink it in debt to get the same.

    Silly Chinese, working and building things.

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