In the past 50 years, the breakthrough technologies of semiconductors have made electronic devices smaller, more stable and available, transforming our way of life and work thoroughly. We at EqualOcean selected 60 Chinese players working in different niche markets in the industry for your reference.
Semiconductors, the brains of electronic devices, have worked behind the scenes to power everything from toys and smartphones to cars and thermostats. It seems they have become an indispensable part of people's modern life.
Unimaginable high profit and cutting-edge technologies have made the industry of semiconductors a hot market. Aiming to become a “Scientific and Technological Powerhouse”, the Chinese government has provided a package of supporting policies, thus attracting more and more domestic enterprises to join this fierce game.
It is congratulated that many Chinese companies have performed well on the way to pursuing advancements and breakthroughs in technical bottlenecks of semiconductors. The following are 60 rising players selected from key fields based on a number of criteria, including technological strengths, financing capacity, and project experiences. This list is in no particular order.
1. Horizon Robotics
Horizon Robotics(Chinese:地平线) completed strategic financing invested by China FAW Group(Chinese:中国一汽) in June. It just finished the Series C6 financing round worth USD 1.5 billion (CNY 10.13 billion) in 2021. Established in 2015, Horizon Robotics is the first domestic vehicle-grade AI chip front-end mass production company. It has developed its own edge AI chips and solutions that combine extreme performance with openness and ease of use to provide comprehensive and open enabling services for smart driving and a wider range of general AI applications. Based on its innovative AI-specific computing architecture BPU (Brain Processing Unit), Horizon has successfully mass-produced a number of AI chips, such as the Journey Series for smart driving and Halo Series for AIoT.
Hisilicon(Chinese:华为海思) is a Fabless semiconductor and device design company. It was formerly known as Huawei IC Design Center. Registered in 2004, Hisilicon has been committed to building the leading performance, safe and reliable semiconductor cornerstones for smart city, smart home, smart travel and other multi-scene intelligent terminals, serving lines of customers and developers. Its products cover a wide range of fields such as smart vision, smart IoT, smart media, smart travel, display interaction, cell phone terminals, data centers and optical transceivers. Kirin 990, its latest generation of cell phone processor, is manufactured using TSMC's second-generation 7nm process. It has a better performance than Kirin 980.
3. Black Sesame Technologies
Black Sesame Technologies(Chinese:黑芝麻智能科技), a self-driving computing chip maker, closed its Series C+ financing round for an undisclosed amount in January from Boyuan Capital, part of the global automotive technology supplier Bosch Group. Founded in 2016, Black Sesame Technologies has focused on image processing, perception algorithm, and SoC design. With its Al SoC computing platform, Black Sesame Technologies provides customized ADAS / AD solutions for 1st tier automobile companies such as Bosch, SAIC, SGM, BYD, etc. Its latest chip Haishan-2 A1000 Pro is able to provide multi-scene solutions for L3 and above level of autonomous driving.
Nations Technologies Inc. (Nationstech, Chinese:国民技术) is a listed enterprise in Security IC and General MCU industry. Established in 2000, this high-tech enterprise has engaged in ultra-large-scale information security chip and communication chip product design, overall solution research and development. It has taken information security, SoC, and RF as the core technology development direction, covering the whole process of IC design technology from front-end to back-end. The products are widely used in many fields such as finance, telecommunication, taxation, public security and customs.
WillSemi(Chinese:韦尔股份), established in 2007, is a world-renowned chip design company providing advanced digital imaging solutions. The company completed the major asset reorganization for the acquisition of Beijing Ominivision and Superpix in 2019. Now its main business remains in two parts: semiconductor product design business and semiconductor product distribution business. The company's semiconductor product design and development business is divided into two main business systems, which are image sensor products and other semiconductor device products. Its products have been widely used in consumer electronics and industrial applications, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, webcams, security surveillance devices, digital cameras, and automotive and medical imaging.
GigaDevice Semiconductor (Chinese: 兆易创新, 603986:SH), a NOR flash memory designer founded in 2005. It has been committed to building a complete ecosystem with three major product lines—Flash memory, MCU and sensor—as the core driving force. GigaDevice provides solutions for a broad set of applications in the fields of industrial, automotive, computing, consumer electronics, IoT, mobile, networking and communications. It also produces microcontrollers, some of them are based on ARM architecture (GD32 series), and others on RISC-V architecture (GD32V series). GD32 chips were introduced in 2015 and are compatible in pinout and periphery options to the STM32 line of MCU. The company completed the IPO on Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2016.
Smartsens(Chinese:思特微电子科技) an image sensor chip design company, completed an IPO to raise CNY 1.261 billion(USD 186.6 million) in May. Founded in 2017, SmartSens is a high-tech enterprise engaged in the development, design and service of CMOS image sensor chip products, focusing on providing customers with future-oriented and global leading CMOS image sensor chip products. Its products are used in security surveillance, car imaging, machine vision and consumer electronics (sports cameras, drones, floor sweepers, and smart home cameras.
Motionsilicon(Chinese:摩芯半导体), a high-end automotive MCU chip design company, closed its Series A financing round worth tens of millions of CNY in May, led by Xinwang Invest. Founded in 2016, Motionsilicon has focused on the field of automotive semiconductor chip design. The company mainly provides solutions for control chips in the field of automotive semiconductors, and the main application scenarios are various domain controllers, area controllers, subsystem controllers, central gateways, and area gateways in automobiles. Its chips have high performance, low power consumption and high-security features, reaching ASIL-D functional safety level, passing AEC-Q100 GRADE1 quality and safety certification, integrating hardware HSM module and passing national security certification.
ChipON(Chinese:芯旺微电子), an automotive chip company with an independent product eco-system, completed its Series C1 financing round worth hundreds of millions of CNY at the end of 2021. Founded in 2012, it is a high-tech enterprise focusing on automotive-grade and industrial-grade mixed-signal 8-bit/32-bit MCU&DSP chips. Its product line of automotive-grade MCUs has passed AEC-Q100 quality certification, realizing mass commercial use in the automotive pre-installation market, covering a wide range of scenarios such as body control, automotive power and motors, automotive lighting, and smart cockpits.
Beijing Chengde Micro Integrated Circuit Technology Co., Ltd.(Senardmicro, Chinese:晟德微), a provider of auto millimeter wave radar receiver chips above 77 GHz, closed its Series A financing round worth tens of millions of CNY in June, led by WZ Group and Comprehensive Reform Trial Hangzhou Fund. Founded in 2018, Senardmicro has been dedicated to the development of high-performance, highly integrated automotive and consumer-grade millimeter wave radar chips based on SiGe BiCMOS and CMOS processes. The first generation of 76-81GHz 3-transmitter-4-transceiver Kestrel341 the company developed has the industry's highest transmit power (16dbm) and receiver IF bandwidth (40MHz), supports 6bit phase control, and cascade mode, making it compliant with 4D imaging radar application requirements.
Centec Communications(Centec, Chinese:盛科网络) is an established Ethernet switch silicon vendor founded in 2005. Centec has provided Ethernet switch silicon and SDN/white box solutions and developed 7 generations of switch silicon and SDN/white box solutions that are deployed in carrier-grade Ethernet, enterprise/campus networking and data center networking around the world. Its products cover End-to-End Ethernet Switch Silicons and Network Solutions for 5G, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning and Industrial 4.0.
Netforward (Chinese:楠菲微电子), founded in 2015, is a developer, producer, seller and service provider of data center interconnection and network communication integrated circuits. The company has core technologies in high-performance interconnection, Ethernet routing and switching, data center converged networks, low-latency high-order switching networks, network processors, high-speed IO and smart network card chips. From 90nm to 7nm, Netforward continues to introduce advanced and high-quality mass production chips with a rich product portfolio to provide customers with complete network chips and supporting software solutions.
13. Jingjia Micro
Jingjia Micro(Chinese:景嘉微,300474:SZ), founded in 2006, is a processor and military-grade electronics manufacturer. The company is the first one in China to successfully develop domestic GPU chips and achieve large-scale engineering applications. It has been dedicated to the technology and comprehensive application in the field of information detection, processing and transmission. Its products cover integrated circuit design, graphic image processing, computing and storage products, small radar systems, wireless communication systems, electromagnetic spectrum application systems and other fields. They are widely used in professional fields such as aviation, aerospace, marine, and vehicle-mounted, which have high-reliability requirements.
Corigine (Chinese:芯启源), founded in 2015, is a fabless semiconductor company that designs and delivers leading-edge I/O and networking products, IPs, and EDA tools, multinational DPU and EDA solutions for enterprise and cloud operations. The company's products and solutions focus on 5G, cloud data centers, cloud computing, and other related fields of network communication. It also provides core chips and system solutions for ultra-large-scale telecommunications and enterprise-level intelligent networks. The entire suite of Corigine USB controllers is USB-IF certified based on the USB 3.2 specification. USB-IF certification reduces the risk of costly IP design errors due to specification interpretations and ensures the necessary interoperability in the field.
15. Yusur Tech
Yusur Tech(Chinese:中科驭数), founded in 2018, is a developer of domain-specific co-processors and advanced data analytics technologies used in various computing-intensive industries. The company develops proprietary kernel processing units capable of executing complex algorithms for the operation of a variety of financial regulatory, transaction, and risk analysis tools. Backed by the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the company is an attractive startup on data processing units or DPUs which have been developed based on its self-developed Kernel Processing Unit architecture.
Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics Group Co., Ltd.( FMSH, Chinese:复旦微电子, 01385:HK), founded in 1998, is principally engaged in integrated circuit (IC) related businesses. The Company operates through two business segments: the design, development and sales of the IC products segment and the provision of testing services for the IC products segment. The Company is also engaged in the production of probe cards, the development and sales of hardware and software of computers, electronic products and communication equipment and the provision of investment management and consultancy services, research and consultancy services of IC technology and research and consultancy services of computer and network technology through its subsidiaries. Its products have been applied in finance, social security, urban public transportation, and other fields.
Shanghai Anlogic Infotech Co., Ltd. (Chinese:安路科技,688107:SH), established in 2011, specializes in providing cost-effective programmable logic devices (FPGAs), programmable system-on-chips, custom embedded eFPGA IPs, and related software design tools and innovative system solutions and DA software. The company has the independent research and development capability of FPGA chip hardware and FPGA compiler software, supporting the whole process and customization service from hardware to software. Its products have been used in industrial control, consumer electronics, data center, network communication and other fields.
Phytium Technology Co., Ltd. (Phytium, Chinese:飞腾), founded in 2014, focuses on homegrown core chips in China. The company has been dedicated to the design, research & development and application of the Phytium series of homegrown high-performance and low-power general-purpose microprocessors. It provides three series of CPU products including high-performance server CPU (Phytium Tengyun S series), high-efficiency desktop CPU (Phytium Tengrui D series) and high-end embedded CPU (Phytium Tenglong E series). Products based on Phytium CPU cover various types of terminals (for example, desktops, all-in-ones, laptops, thin clients), servers and embedded industrial control products, which have been applied widely in government OA, cloud computing and big data as well as in information systems in finance, energy and rail transit industries in China.
19. Loongson Technology
Loongson Technology(Chinese:龙芯中科, 688047:SH), founded in 2008, is a chip manufacturer and distributor. The Company produces industrial control chips, information chips, and other products. Loongson Technology supplies its products in electronic government, energy, transportation, finance, telecommunication, education, and other fields. The company announced that its next-generation Godson 3A6000 processors based on LA664 architecture will match the instructions-per-clock (IPC) of AMD's Zen 3 processors, similar to Intel's 11th-generation Tiger Lake CPUs.
20. Enflame Technology
Enflame Technology(Chinese:燧原科技), established in 2018, is an artificial intelligence start-up developing cloud-based deep learning chips for AI training platforms. It produces engineering software, computer software, and other products. It also produces integrated circuits, computer hardware products, and other products. The company's chips contain self-developed architecture with high computational power, leading to high efficiency, low cost and programmable features to support AI training and optimization. It completed its Series C financing round worth CNY 1.8 billion (USD 278.5 million) in 2021, led by Tencent and CITIC.
21. Cambrian Technologies
Cambrian Technologies(Chinese:寒武纪), founded in 2016, is a pioneer in the field of smart chips in the world. It develops and distributes software products. The Company produces terminal intelligent processors, cloud intelligent chips, accelerator cards, intelligent computing cluster systems, and computer peripheral products. The Cambrian is the world's first smart chip company with successful outflow and mature products and has two product lines, terminal and server. The Cambrian-1A processor (Cambricon-1A), introduced in 2016, is the world's first commercial deep learning processor for smartphones, wearable devices, unmanned aerial vehicles, smart driving and other types of terminal equipment.
UNISOC(Chinese:紫光展锐), a fabless semiconductor company based in Shanghai, is one of a handful of chip design companies worldwide that have all-scenarios communication technologies supporting 2G/3G/4G/5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, TV and satellite communication. It boasts comprehensive chip design technologies. Its products cover mobile communication application processors, baseband, AI, RF, RFFE and other communication, computing, and control chipset platform. As of 2021, it is the fourth largest mobile processor manufacturer in the world, after Mediatek, Qualcomm and Apple, with 9% of the global market share. UNISOC mainly develops its business in consumer electronics and industrial electronics.
23. Awinic Technology
Shanghai Awinic Technology Co., Ltd(Chinese:艾为电子, 688798:SH), founded in June 2008, is a high-tech company focusing on high-quality and high-performance IC design of Mixed signal, analog, and RF for mobile phone, AI, IoT, automotive electronics, wearables and consumer electronics. At present, Awinic has five product lines: Audio, LED Driver, Power Management, RF Device and Touch&Haptic. This fabless IC design company has more than 800 products with independent intellectual property rights widely used worldwide on mobile phones as well as IoT brands.
Rockchip Electronics Co., Ltd. (Rockchip, Chinese:瑞芯微, 603893:SH), established in 2001, is a leading fabless IC design company that focuses on Intelligent IoT. It specializes in SoC design, analog circuit chip design and algorithm research and has extensive experience in processor and analog-digital mixed chip design, multimedia processing, and image algorithm. In addition to processor chips, it also provides full solutions including PMICs, analog-digital mixed chips, optoelectronic products and development boards. Rockchip is committed to providing professional solutions, empowering consumer electronics, intelligent hardware, computer vision, commercial/industrial applications, and other fields.
Amlogic (Chinese:晶晨半导体), founded in 1995, is a fabless semiconductor company that specializes in the design, development and application of high-performance, multimedia system-on-chip (SoC) for intelligent home appliances and electronic products. It mainly deals in digital photo frames, TV multimedia decoders and readers, home media centers, set-top boxes, and MID chips. The company has expanded into new areas including smart vision, wireless connectivity and automotive electronics, ushering in a new era of AIoT. It provides complete turnkey solutions combining industry-leading software and hardware technologies, including UHD multimedia processing, artificial intelligence, content security protection, CPU and GPU with advanced process nodes.
26. Allwinner Technology
Allwinner Technology(Chinese:全志科技, 300458:SZ), founded in 2007, is a designer of intelligent application SoC, high-performance analog components and wireless connectivity IC headquartered in Zhuhai China. Allwinner has been dedicated to developing UHD video processing, high-performance multi-core CPU/GPU integration with AI and advanced manufacturing processes in terms of high integration, ultra-low power consumption and full-stack integration platform. The products powered by Allwinner spread across from smart hardware, smart home, consumer electronics, HD media, smart video, connected cars, industry control, and wireless communication to analog products.
27. Espressif Systems
Espressif Systems (Chinese:乐鑫科技, 688018:SH), established in 2008, is a multinational fabless semiconductor company. It has focused on developing cutting-edge wireless communication, low-power, AIoT solutions and created chips with a high level of integration, designing smart solutions that can be easily manufactured and deployed, like the popular ESP8266, ESP32, ESP32-S, ESP32-C and ESP32-H series of chips, modules and development boards. It has been committed to offering solutions that are secure, robust and power-efficient.
ALLYSTAR Technology（CHinese：华大北斗), founded in 2016, is a provider of GNSS chips and solutions.ALLYSTAR is dedicated to the design of location awareness technologies and solutions, including the R&D of GNSS positioning chips, algorithms, modules, antennas and terminals covering LoV, LoT, consumer electronics, industrial applications, high precision positioning and timing and data encryption technology to provide customers a secured and connected world. With years of successful IC design experience, ALLYSTAR has made remarkable achievements in multi-band GNSS System-On-Chip (SoC) products and solutions. ALLYSTAR has applied for more than 40 patents and software copyrights regarding GNSS.
29. North Ocean Photonics
North Ocean Photonics(Chinese:鲲游光电) is a developer, manufacturer, and distributor of wafer optics products. The company develops and manufactures micro-optical products including reticle gratings, micro-lens arrays, tapered optical fibers, micro-optical component coating and more to integrate the semiconductor process with the optical process, supporting its clients in production with nano-scale, low-cost optical chips. The company has not only gained a toehold in the field of wafer-level optical chips but also performed well in VR/AR development. It harvested CNY 400 million(USD 59.16 million) in its Series B+ financing round in 2021.
Bestechnic(Chinese:恒玄科技, 688608:SH) is a fabless IC company engaged in the R&D, design and sales of smart audio SoC, providing customers with edge intelligence platform chips with voice interaction capabilities for use in AIoT scenarios. Its products are widely used in low-power smart Bluetooth earphones, Type-C earphones, and smart speakers. The company has self-developed IBRT true wireless technology and self-developed low-power embedded voice AI technology, highly compatible with market demands.