China-Taiwan Conflict May develop into a Chip-war

US Navy ships sail in formation with Japanese, Australian and Canadian ships in the Philippine Sea. Credit: US DoD

The growing tension between China and Taiwan in the last months raises fears of a coming war and possible takeover of Taiwan’s semiconductor’s capacity, which may reshape the Global Semiconductor Industry. With small population of 24 million people, Taiwan is one of the most important hubs of the semiconductor supply chain. According to IC Insights, in 2020 Taiwan held the largest share of IC industry capacity of any country or region in the world.

Led by TSMC, Taiwan by far holds the largest share of leading-edge (small nodes of less than 10nm) IC capacity (63%) of any country in the world. South Korea, represented by Samsung, holds the remaining 37%. Taiwan holds 22% of the world’s 300mm IC capacity, second only to South Korea, which holds a 25% share.  North America possesses only an 11% share of global 300mm IC capacity. ICs are all semiconductor devices, excluding computer processors.

Taiwan is a Global powerhouse of foundry services: About 80% of Taiwan’s total IC capacity is dedicated to foundry production. Taiwan’s pure-play foundries (TSMC, UMC, Powerchip, Vanguard, etc.) are forecast to represent almost 80% of the total worldwide pure-play foundry market in 2021.

37% of Global IC capacity

A special report by IC Insights, suggests that China is determined to take hold of the Taiwanese semiconductors assets. “If combined, the share of IC capacity within the borders of China and Taiwan would represent about 37% of global IC capacity, about 3x the amount of IC capacity located in North America.”

IC Insights analysts believe that the US sanctions, especially with regard to IC technology, caused China to question how it will be able compete in the future IC and electronics industries.  “It is increasingly apparent that China’s answer to that question centers on its reunification with Taiwan. Currently, there is no more important base of IC capacity and production than Taiwan. China has a huge problem with its inability to produce leading-edge IC devices —a problem that it believes can be solved through reunification with Taiwan by whatever means necessary.

Short term Pain, Long term Gain

What will be the price of a possible war? “While the Taiwanese economy would crater if China attempted a military takeover of the island nation, China’s economy would also suffer greatly.  The question is whether China is willing to accept relatively short-term economic pain for the long term benefit of having the largest amount of the world’s leading-edge IC production capacity under its control for many years to come.”

It is important to mention that IC Insights does not bring evidence to support this conclusion. It also does not mention the deterrent effect of the US forces in the Pacific (photo above). Maybe it is more a warning than a prediction. However, it expresses a real concerns that geopolitical tension in the Taiwan Strait may develop, any moment, into a huge disruption of the entire Global semiconductor supply chain.

Chinese OEM has begun manufacturing cars with Cipia’s DMS

The israeli Cipia (formerly Eyesight) reported that the first model of a car equipped with the driver monitoring system it has developed will be hitting the roads in China during this month. The company is collaborating with a Chinese automaker, which has chosen to implement Eyesight’s solution in one of its new models, whose production began last month. Eyesight hopes that the initial adoption will lead to the implementation of the system in other models from the same manufacturer.

Cipia’s Driver Sense DMS utilizes AI and computer vision to monitor the driver for signs of distraction and drowsiness behind the wheel to help create a safer driving experience. The company monitors important factors including gaze vector, blink rate, and eye openness to monitor for dangerous situations and also includes the ability to monitor the driver accurately with a facemask present, proper seat belt usage detection as well as cigarette smoking detection.

Earlier this month, Cipia announced that a leading U.S-based automaker has doubled the volume of systems ordered from Cipia to $30 million, intended to be integrated into a new model scheduled to be launched in 2021. So far, Cipia has achieved 10 design wins.

The Chinese car market is the largest and fastest-growing car market in the world, and also the first to bounce back after the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the world car industry. The Chinese market is also considered to be advanced in terms of adopting new technologies and advancing safety regulations. The issue of regulation is of crucial importance for the driver monitoring systems market. Already last year, some provinces in China began requiring the installation of driver monitoring systems in new vehicles. Indeed, according to Research & Markets, in 2019 over 10,000 DMS systems were sold in China, a spike of 174% compared to a year earlier, and in the first quarter of 2020 about 5,000 systems were installed, a rate that reflects an annual growth of more than 300%.

Autotalks showcased its V2X chipset in a large scale demo in Shanghai

V2X chipset provider Autotalks has successfully collaborated with seven consortiums and five car makers including Great Wall, Dongfeng and Brilliance Auto, a top US car maker and a leading European car maker, in China’s largest ever C-V2X demonstration, which took place in Shanghai.

Autotalks demonstrated the interoperability and conformance of its V2X solution to the latest Chinese C-V2X standard.

The demonstration took place as part of the IMT-2020/CAICV/China SAE 2020 C-V2X “New Four Layers” event. The interoperability application demonstration was part of the China SAE Congress and Exhibition that was held on October 27th-29th.

Autotalks’ OEM partners, conducted demonstration rides for hundreds of visitors, exhibiting conformance and interoperability at all levels: chipset, system, software and security. The terminal units at the ‘’New Four Layers” demonstration were powered by Autotalks’ dual-mode (DSRC/C-V2X) chipsets, showcasing the maturity and readiness of Autotalks’ module eco-system. The terminal units were based on C-V2X modules by Murata, Fibocom, M2Motive and Titan, and were running Neusoft’s VeTalk V2X software. The “New Four Layers” event also demonstrated integration with HD Map, accurate positioning services, cloud platform, and tested more complex driving scenarios compared to last year’s event.

Autotalks’ production grade C-V2X solution meets all Chinese performance, configuration, throughput and security requirements and is ready for deployment there as well as in other international markets, following extensive testing in China. The company’s deployment-ready, 2nd generation dual-mode V2X chipset is the world’s first available solution which supports C-V2X based on 3GPP release 14 and 15 specifications with embedded global V2X cyber-security functionality and RX and TX antenna diversity.

In addition to the application demonstration, Autotalks successfully participated in multiple large-scale tests, showcasing superior performance in multi-OBU (On-Board Units) environment. The large-scale tests, which involved more than 180 OBUs in multiple settings, simulated more difficult environments that represent real-world edge cases.

The 2020 “New Four Layers” demonstration follows Autotalks’ successful participation in last year’s event and the selection of Autotalks for a mass production C-V2X program in China, one of the first to be deployed in the huge Chinese market.

“Israel May be a Bridge Between China and US”

The trade war between US and China has sent shocking waves across the Technology Industry and sent many high profile exetutives to plea for “ceasefire”‘. But, according to Haggai Ravid, CEO of Cukierman & Co. Investment House, the real impact of the trade war is smaller than what had been anticipated, and some countries, like Israel for example, can benefit from this newly arrived reality.

“The financial markets have become ‘accustomed’ to the threats of the trade war”, He explained in a statement to Techtime. “We have seen that things are very fluid. Statements often change from a fight to reconciliation, therefore in the end, the market forces will be the ones to dictate the tone. China has reacted moderately to the US policy, and both sides seem to be looking for solutions behind the scene.”

Haggai Ravid believes that one possible result of this trade war is that “Israel may become an investment bridge between China and the US”, and will attracts Chinese investors for its technology.  “In the past two years the Chinese market has matured and has created many start-ups. It seems that now the Chinese today are more interested in medicine, advanced production, automation and robotics technologies that are very advanced in Israel.”

Israeli Technologies in Europe

Europe will continue to be an excellent market for Israeli technologies, he said. “European investments in Israel nearly doubled in 2018, compared to 2017”. He warned that possible reduction of Israel’s budget for the Horizon 2020 plan, which is currently under consideration, could harm investments in joint Israeli and European ventures.

“The Europeans are eagerly interested in water technologies, automotive, life sciences and cyber security. The low valuations of Israeli start-ups versus their counterparts in the US and Europe, encourages European investors to make investments in Israeli technologies.” Cukierman and Co. Investment House is headquartered in Tel Aviv, and provides Investment Banking services, including M&A, Private Placement, IPO on international exchanges, asset management, and strategic advisory services to Israeli and International companies.