China's chip design sector growing despite U.S. export restrictions

The Chinese chip design sector’s sales revenue for 2022 is expected to reach CNY534.57 billion, up 16.5% year-on-year, experts said after reviewing data from the China Semiconductor Industry Association. Far from crimping growth, U.S. restrictions of chip exports to China are inspiring local chip designers to pursue self-reliance, which in turn is facilitating the wider use of their processors, experts said. Wei Shaojun, President of the integrated circuit design branch of the China Semiconductor Industry Association (CSIA), said though the sectoral growth rate in 2022 is 3.6 percentage points lower than in 2021, China’s chip design sector is likely to account for a bigger proportion of global semiconductor sales. Wei delivered the CSIA report at an industry conference in Xiamen, Fujian province, on December 26. The report showed there are 3,243 chip design companies in China, 433 more than last year.

Amid Washington’s restrictions of advanced U.S. chip exports to China, “not only Chinese companies but foreign companies operating in China attach greater importance to the security of supply chains, which has, in fact, fueled a wider use of domestically designed chips”, Wei said. If there are more similar restrictions in the future, Chinese chip design firms’ market presence will likely expand even more, Wei said. The U.S. crackdown on China’s chip industry, he said, is disrupting the global semiconductor supply chains. This created a sense of crisis among downstream users of chips, making them look for secure supply chains less reliant on U.S. chip technologies and products, thus opening up more opportunities for Chinese chip designers. “Many domestic chip design enterprises said that some markets they had found very hard to enter in the past, have granted access this year,” Wei said.

More than 25 chip design companies launched their IPOs in 2022, with their combined market value on December 1 hitting CNY472.1 billion. Since the listing of the first Chinese chip design company in 1996, some 73 chip design companies have listed on China’s stock exchanges, with their combined market value hitting CNY1.75 trillion. Zhong Xinlong, Senior Consultant at the China Center for Information Industry Development Consultancy, said the U.S. government restrictions are persuading more local customers to choose domestic chips and making Chinese chip companies more determined to achieve breakthroughs in crucial technologies, the China Daily reports.