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更新时间:2015-6-26 9:52:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Qualcomm in Venture With Chinese Chip Maker

HONG KONG —China’s largest maker of chips has a new plan to help it close a wide gap with rivals, and the company has found some unlikely partners to help.


The company, the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, also known as S.M.I.C., said on Tuesday that it would form a new company with a leading Belgian microelectronics research center and Qualcomm, the American chip giant, to help it develop and produce new generations of advanced semiconductors that work as the brains of numerous electronics products, like smartphones and servers.


Four months ago, China imposed a $975 million fine on Qualcomm, saying it violated antimonopoly law, and forced it to reduce sharply the licensing fees it charges Chinese smartphone makers for its communications chips.


While Qualcomm previously helped the Chinese company develop chips, the new deal involves far more advanced technology. The move will help Qualcomm use more companies to produce the chips it designs that power many of the world’s most popular smartphones. The plan is also probably a tactic to improve relations with the Chinese government, according to analysts.


“Qualcomm just had a huge settlement with the Chinese government, so from their perspective they need to be able to sell in China,” said Willy C. Shih, a professor of technology and operations management at Harvard Business School.

“高通公司刚刚和中国政府了结一桩大麻烦,所以从他们的角度来看,他们需要能够在中国销售产品,”哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)技术和运营管理教授史兆威(Willy C. Shih)说。

“The logic is if they help S.M.I.C. manufacture Qualcomm chips in China, that improves their ability to sell those chips there.”


The new partnership, which also includes Huawei Technologies, the Chinese maker of telecommunications equipment, is also the most recent example of the chip multinational companies cooperating more closely with Chinese companies.


Intel, a rival of Qualcomm, last year agreed to invest $1.5 billion in Tsinghua Unigroup, a state-controlled company that has emerged from relative obscurity to become a sort of chip national champion. Also last year, IBM agreed to license to a local Chinese company advanced chip technology that works in servers.


That is a break from the approach of the last decade, when leading semiconductor makers refrained from establishing their most advanced research labs and production centers in China — largely to protect intellectual property, which in the industry often costs billions of dollars a year to generate.


“This really is Qualcomm playing nice with the Chinese government,” said Mark Hung, a semiconductor analyst with Gartner, a market research company. Mr. Hung pointed to the earlier deal with S.M.I.C. to make chips, as well as the announcement last year of a $150 million fund to invest in Chinese companies, as other ways the company was trying to get on the government’s good side, despite the antitrust troubles. “Throughout the investigation they tried to be better citizens,” he said.

“这确实是高通在试图与中国政府搞好关系,”研究公司高德纳(Gartner)的分析师马克·洪(Mark Hung)称。他指出,高通早前与中芯国际达成制造芯片的交易,以及去年宣布成立1.5亿美元的基金来投资中国公司,是该公司试图赢得中国政府好感的方式之一,尽管它遭遇了反垄断麻烦。“在整个调查过程中,他们都试图配合,以改善关系,”他说。

Jon Carvill, a Qualcomm spokesman, declined to provide any financial details about the deal, but described it as a “S.M.I.C.-led” venture. The manufacturing behind the new chip “is expected to have a long life cycle,” Mr. Carvill said.

高通发言人乔恩·卡维尔(Jon Carvill)拒绝透露有关这笔交易的任何财务细节,但将其形容为一个“中芯国际为主导的”合作。新芯片采用的制造环节“预计将会有很长的生命周期,”卡维尔说。

The deal could put pressure on some of Qualcomm’s partners, like the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, a major chip maker that has long worked closely with Qualcomm to produce processors.


“T.S.M.C. may be a little leery of this,” Mr. Hung said.


China has emerged as the world’s largest smartphone market, giving it stronger bargaining power with companies that supply the parts that make those phones work. In working more closely with Chinese companies, foreign chip companies are also helping support a broader industrial policy through which Beijing hopes to expand chip research and production capacity within China, according to analysts.


“The Chinese government has been very persistent and insistent in their policies. They want local chip manufacturing there, and this is another leak in the dike. It’s another part of the steady progress on their side,” Mr. Shih said.


Chinese companies like S.M.I.C. have greatly lagged behind rivals like Samsung Electronics and Intel, partly because of export restrictions on the sophisticated tools and machines required to produce the most advanced chips. In 2013, China imported $232 billion worth of semiconductor materials, more than it spent on petroleum.


To close the gap, Beijing has pledged a huge amount of resources. Ma Kai, the vice premier and one of the country’s top leaders, leads a task force created to make China’s chip industry a global leader by 2030. The task force is estimated to have about $170 billion in government money to spend over the next decade, according to a report last year by McKinsey & Company.

北京已经做出承诺,会提供大量的资源保障,来缩小这种差距。由副总理、中国最高层领导人之一马凯领导了一个工作组,力图在2030年前让中国芯片产业达到全球领先水平。麦肯锡公司(McKinsey & Company)去年的一份报告称,在未来10年里,该工作组估计将得到1700亿美元左右的政府拨款。

Underlying the importance of the agreement, photos from an S.M.I.C. release showed that President Xi Jinping of China was present at the announcement of the agreement, which was made during an official visit to Beijing by King Philippe of Belgium.

中芯国际发布的照片显示,习近平出席了该协议的公布仪式,突显了该协议的重要性。该协议是比利时国王菲利普(King Philippe of Belgium)对北京进行正式访问时签订的。

Imec, the Belgian partner in the joint venture, is a well-known nonprofit research institute that has helped pioneer techniques that help produce some of the world’s smallest and most sophisticated chips. In an interview with the electronics industry publication EE Times that was published on Tuesday, Luc Van den hove, Imec’s chief executive, said that the company’s investment in the deal would be “very, very small” and that Imec would support S.M.I.C.’s production of the new generation of chips “very strictly following export controls.”

合资企业中的比利时合作方校际微电子研究中心(Imec)是一家著名的非营利性研究机构,参与了许多开拓性技术的研发,被用于生产世界上最小、最精密的一些芯片。周二发行的电子行业刊物《电子工程时报》(Electronic Engineering Times)刊载了对Imec首席执行官吕克·范登霍夫(Luc Van den hove)的一篇采访,他说公司对这项交易的投资将“非常、非常少”,Imec将在“极其严格地遵守出口控制”的情况下,支持中芯国际对新一代芯片的生产。

The first stated goal of the new company is to help S.M.I.C. produce, by 2020, the generation of chips that some rivals are already producing. S.M.I.C. is now two generations behind, so that timeline would effectively help the Chinese company catch up by one generation of technology on global leaders like Intel, according to analysts.