Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Hua Hong sees record shipments of smart meter chips

Steve Rogerson
August 11, 2015
Total shipments of smart meter ICs by Chinese semiconductor foundry Hua Hong Semiconductor hit a record high of 130 million in the first half of 2015, 50 per cent up on the same period last year. These included security, MCU, SoC, PLC and metering chips.
The company said this was mainly due to its embedded flash (eflash) technology that has won recognition and support for its reliability from smart meter chip suppliers.
Hua Hong has been active in the IoT sector for years, delivering a full spectrum of products including embedded Sonos flash and SuperFlash technologies, as well as two derivative process platforms: eflash + high voltage (HV) and eflash + radio frequency (RF), which combine the advanced embedded flash, low-power digital-analogue mixed signal, and low-cost CMOS RF technologies on technology nodes from 0.18 to 0.11μm.
The company not only provides low-voltage standard cell libraries, but also customises eflash and EEPROM IP with high-speed, low-power and low static power consumption according to requirements. This reduces the difficulties for low-power designs and enables them to gain pre-emptive advantages in the IoT market.
Smart meter is an important medium for massive deployment of IoT. According to the State Grid’s Annual Meeting 2015, the yearly target of metering includes the installation of 60.6 million smart meters, which implies a huge market potential of smart meters in China. As an established player with stable production in this area, Hua Hong has become a long-term partner of major smart meter chip suppliers within the nation.
Its eflash technology integrates all types of ICs in smart meters, including metering, MCU, security, real-time clock and PLC chips. The company says it can shorten the design cycle of customers’ products and enhance time to market, thus reducing production costs.
Meanwhile, the company is expanding its MCU foundry portfolio, which includes more leading MCU suppliers worldwide, to optimise process technologies for MCU customers and provide lower leakage and lower power processes, as well as eflash and EEPROM IP – low-power IP with power consumption lower than 0.1µA during deep sleep mode and wake-up time shorter than 2µs, and high-speed IP with reading access time up to 15ns.
“With the competitive advantages in the technical areas of low-power embedded flash, sensor, power management and RF, Hua Hong Semiconductor is well-positioned to deliver innovative, high-performance, low-power and cost-effective IoT solutions to customers worldwide,” said Fu Cheng, executive vice president of Hua Hong Semiconductor. “Through strengthening the co-operation with first-tier customers, we are able to advance in area of IoT and MCU applications and seize the great prospects and strategic opportunities of loT development.”
Hua Hong primarily focuses on research and manufacturing of semiconductors on 200mm wafers for specialty applications, in particular eNVM and power discretes. The group’s portfolio also includes several other advanced process technologies such as RFCMOS, analogue and mixed signal, PMIC and MEMS. According to IHS, based on total 2014 revenues, the group ranked second globally amongst pure-play 200mm foundries.
The semiconductors manufactured are incorporated into a wide range of products in diverse markets, including consumer electronics, communications, computing, industrial and automotive. It uses its own proprietary processes and techniques to manufacture semiconductors to the design specifications of its customers.
The three fabs in Shanghai have an approximate total capacity of 132,000 wafers per month.