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Along with the rise of the digital economy, semiconductor materials, and semiconductor chips play a vital role, offering exceptional growth potential for the industry. Semiconductor materials are the fourth most traded product globally, regarded as the core of the modern electronics industry. So, how do semiconductor chips transition from ideas to reality, tangible products that ultimately reach consumers’ hands? This journey is encapsulated in an end-to-end process known as the Semiconductor Supply Chain.

Overview of the semiconductor supply chain

A semiconductor device, also known as an integrated circuit (IC – Integrated Circuit)/microchip or chip, is an integrated circuit containing numerous smaller circuits, including billions of transistors, diodes, capacitors, and resistors,… all packed within a few square millimeters of silicon (semiconductor material). Integrated circuits can be considered as “ the bloodstream within electronic devices”, influencing various components inside the device to optimize processing and enhance product efficiency. Thus, microchips are omnipresent in all around us, from smartphones, wireless headphones, laptops, electric motorcycles, electric cars, medical devices, to even smart home systems.

Before being implemented within electronic devices, the components that make up the semiconductor integrated circuits undergo an “extensive journey”. The production process that can last months, with the component being shipped from a 40,000 km distance, is known as the “Semiconductor supply chain”

The semiconductor supply chain refers to the network of companies involved in designing, manufacturing, testing, packaging, and distributing semiconductor products. This supply chain is highly complex, involving the coordination of various stages, from sourcing components and raw materials to delivering the final product to end-users.

Semiconductor supply chain process

Phase 1: Circuit design

As the initial stage in the semiconductor supply chain, semiconductor design (Integrated Circuit design) is the process of creating integrated circuits on a chip, constituting 50-60% of the total microchip’s value. These integrated circuits can contain millions or even billions of electronic components such as transistors, resistors, capacitors, and many other components on a small chip.

During this stage, engineers systematically select electronic elements that, when interconnected, can perform defined functions according to requirements. The circuit is designed to prioritize using the fewest possible components at a reasonable cost, with minimal size, high reliability, and stability to function under various environmental conditions.

FPT Semiconductor takes the lead in the chip supply chain, generating the design, which is the “soul of the chip”, containing the expertise and labor’s culmination, focusing on detailed and precision.

Key aspects about IC design:

  • Digital IC design, and Analog IC design: IC design can be divided into two main areas: digital and analog. Digital processes signals as digits (signal level changes between two states with “1” and no “0”), while analog techniques process signals as continuous (signal level signal changes between continuously variable states).
  • Design process: The IC design process includes multiple steps, starting from determining product requirements and necessary features. Design engineers then use tools and software to create circuit diagrams, simulate, and test circuit performance.
  • Design Software: Software tools like Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor Graphics and many others are used in IC design, allowing engineers to simulate circuits, and create realistic circuit designs, test, and evaluate to ensure that the circuit operates properly and meets product requirements.

Phase 2: Fabrication (Wafer production)

The next stage in the semiconductor supply chain is the physical fabrication of the chip on the wafer substrate. The wafer is cut from a highly pure semiconductor material, Silicon, whose main component is Silicon, also known as Sand. This serves as the foundation for producing integrated circuits after undergoing specific production steps:

Room cleaning – Wafer surface treatment – Oxidation – Diffusion – Optical Etching – Ion implantation – Corrosion – Thin film – Washing – Parameter measurement and investigation – Packaging – Soldering the chip on the substrate.

Stage 3: Packaging

Chips after the manufacturing process in phase 2 are layered and assembled into packages that can be mounted on circuit boards. Subsequently, they undergo testing and evaluation under different electrical and temperature conditions, before being implemented in electronic devices.

Phase 4: Integration & Consumption

After packaging, appliance and electronics manufacturers integrate chips into electronic circuits to create final products for consumers. The final products are then shipped to companies, retailers, and consumers worldwide.

Despite their small size of just a few square millimeters, semiconductor chips, with their crucial support role, demand a well-structured semiconductor supply chain process, ensuring precision, feasibility, and practicality before reaching the hands of consumers.

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