[News] Chinese Semiconductor Design Industry Diverts to Malaysia to Evade U.S. Controls; Potential Advanced Packaging Orders Surge for ASE

2023-12-19 Semiconductors editor

An increasing number of Chinese semiconductor design companies are seeking collaboration with testing and packaging facilities in Malaysia to carry out advanced chip packaging. According to Reuters’ report, this move aims to hedge the risk of potential expanded U.S. restrictions on the Chinese semiconductor industry.

As there is currently only one non-U.S. testing and packaging provider in Malaysia with advanced capabilities, namely ASE Technology Holding Co., a Taiwanese semiconductor packaging and testing firm, industry sources believe that ASE is likely to become the top choice for orders from Chinese enterprises.

Previously, the U.S. has imposed controls on China’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes and access to high-performance chips from major companies like NVIDIA. However, advanced packaging has not yet fallen within the restricted scope.

Two anonymous sources reportedly revealed that some of the Chinese businesses are showing interest in advanced chip packaging services. Despite the fact that the chip packaging sector has not yet faced export controls from the U.S., concerns are rising among businesses due to its involvement in sophisticated technology, fearing that it might be targeted for curbs on exports in the future.

Reuters’ report also indicates that due to the relatively affordable investment costs in Malaysia and the availability of experienced workforce and sophisticated equipment, an increasing number of Chinese chip design firms are seeking Malaysian Firms to carry out advanced chip packaging activities, including graphic processing units (GPUs).

Insiders have informed Reuters that the related contracts only involve packaging and do not violate any restrictions imposed by the U.S.. Additionally, they clarified that wafer manufacturing is not included in these contracts.

Two of the sources mentioned that some contracts have already been agreed. However, these insiders prefer not to disclose the names of the involved companies.

Meanwhile, according to a report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, when observing the global landscape of advanced packaging, in addition to TSMC, there are integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) like Intel and Samsung, as well as outsourcing semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) companies like ASE Technology, Amkor, and others that possess advanced packaging capabilities. Among them, only ASE Technology, Amkor, and Intel have production capacity in Malaysia.

Reportedly, industry analysts predict that Chinese companies seeking advanced packaging support in Malaysia, due to geopolitical considerations, are likely to avoid American companies such as Intel and Amkor. Given that ASE is not an American company and can provide high-end packaging services, it is expected to be the preferred choice for Chinese companies.

ASE has previously stated that it will continue to invest in advanced packaging for AI, expecting the performance of advanced packaging to double next year compared to this year.

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(Photo credit: ASE Holdings)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters