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七旬台湾芯片魔法师助推中国半导体梦想

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发表于 8-9-2022 15:32:13 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
YANG Jie, 七旬台湾芯片魔法师助推中国半导体梦想; 当亚洲半导体制造商取得巨大进步时,背后往往都跟一个人有关,他就是加州大学伯克利分校毕业的梁孟松. 华尔街日报, Aug 9, 2022
https://cn.wsj.com/articles/七旬台湾芯片魔法师助推中国半导体梦想-11660024207

, which is translated from

Yang Jie, Taiwanese Chip Wizard Drives China's Technology Ambitions. Wall Street Journal, Aug 9, 2022, at page B1.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-7 ... bitions-11659956404
https://www.timesofupdate.com/a- ... tech-ambitions-tou/

My comment:
(a) Reading this article reminds me of a maxim in statistics: When two things correlates, trends in the same pattern (rise or fall, or move in opposite direction, at the same time and at a similar rate) or statistically significant does NOT show cause and effect. A teacher will give an example, for decades incidence rate (occurrences per 100,000 persons) of lung cancer increases with many things, such as electricity consumption. This is just a coincidence. Neither Mr Yang Jie nor I is a expert on chips. IF Samsung is solely dependent on Mr Liang, it would not be running neck and neck for almost a decade now. Besides, every now and then, a tech report in the United States would pop up, contending that China is making 10 nm, 7 nm and son on. I do not really believe it. I mean, no Chinese chip maker has access to ASML;s most advanced, expensive gears -- for whatever reasons (lack of money, America's hindrance).  
(b) The online version is exactly the same as the print one, except that the latter ends with this paragraph: "Industry executives say that after Mr. Liang arrived at SMIC, the Chinese company improved the yield of its mass production and shrank the size of its chips," which is the first part of paragraph 6 from the BOTTOM.
(c) "In 2003, TSMC jumped into prominence with a method of using low-resistance copper in certain connections to make smaller chips. TSMC, in its news release, named Mr. Liang second on the list of engineers responsible, behind only his boss at the time, Chiang Shang-yi."
(i) copper interconnects
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_interconnects
):Since copper is a better conductor than aluminium, ICs using copper for their interconnects can have interconnects with narrower dimensions, and use less energy to pass electricity through them. Together, these effects lead to ICs with better performance. They were first introduced by IBM, with assistance from Motorola, in 1997 [fn 1]")
(b) I only read the first sentence and set out to search the Web: I found
Copper Interconnects; The evolution of Microprocessors. IBM, undated
https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/copperchip/

, which turns out to be footnote 1.
e

---------------------
In 2015, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. jolted the technology world with news that its chips were on par with the world’s most advanced.

This summer, the Chinese company Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is drawing buzz in the same circles after word emerged that it, too, has made a big jump.

One man links the two events, an engineer legendary in chip-industry circles and barely known outside them: Liang Mong Song.

Mr. Liang, 70 years old, led Samsung’s chip development at the time of its breakthrough and is now in charge of SMIC’s operations in Shanghai. Earlier in his career, he was also one of the stars behind the rise of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., one of the most important suppliers for global electronics brands such as Apple Inc.

He is the chip wizard with the magic touch, able to turn also-rans into champions. At the same time, say people who know him, he possesses a stubborn streak that tends to lead to conflict and land him back on the free-agent market.

SMIC grabbed him five years ago, and it has managed to keep him on board as it leads China’s drive to enter the top echelon of semiconductors.

SMIC and Mr. Liang did not respond to requests for comment.

Beijing is competing in a global race that includes the US, where Congress last month passed legislation with $52.7 billion in direct financial assistance for building and expanding chip factories. President Biden is set to sign the legislation Tuesday [Aug 9].

SMIC made news recently when an industry analytics firm, TechInsights Inc., said the Chinese company had made a 7-nanometer chip for a bitcoin miner. The figure, a fraction of the width of a human hair, refers to the space between transistors on a chip. That development put SMIC closer to the industry leaders, TSMC and Samsung.

Although the US has put sanctions on SMIC that prevent it from getting the latest semiconductor-manufacturing machines, engineers said SMIC’s recent 7-nanometer feat was probably feasible with less-advanced machines from ASML Holding NV of the Netherlands.

SMIC is both a profit-making enterprise with global clients and a vehicle for China’s Communist government to develop independence from Western technology, which makes for some notable contrasts. Mr. Liang, SMIC’s co-chief executive, is from Taiwan, the democratically self-governing island Beijing is threatening to capture by force.

The executive, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, is pushing SMIC to invest in leading-edge chip designs that lean heavily on imported equipment and materials, say people familiar with his work.

Mr. Liang has published more than 350 technical papers, according to his official biography. He joined TSMC in 1992, just a few years after it was founded, and helped build the company into the world’s largest contract chip maker.

“He was a very gifted scientist and engineer,” said Richard L. Thurston, a former executive at TSMC who worked with Mr. Liang. “He had an excellent memory and was methodical.”

In 2003, TSMC jumped into prominence with a method of using low-resistance copper in certain connections to make smaller chips. TSMC, in its news release, named Mr. Liang second on the list of engineers responsible, behind only his boss at the time, Chiang Shang-yi.

People who worked with Mr. Liang said he was a strict workaholic with an exacting attention to detail. When he was with TSMC, some recalled him bringing his young son to the office on occasion when he had to work on weekends or holidays.

These people say Mr. Liang was convinced that making smaller chips was the best way to make powerful chips, while he believed others at TSMC were paying too much attention to other projects. The clashes were one factor behind his departure from TSMC in 2009, they say.

In July 2011, Samsung said it had hired Mr. Liang, and within a few years the Korean company made its leapfrog to the top of the technology tables. In early 2015, TSMC said it had been slightly overtaken by Samsung in making the smallest chips at the time.

TSMC executives were surprised and disappointed by Mr. Liang’s defection to Samsung, said Mr. Thurston and others who were there. The company sued Mr. Liang in Taiwan, accusing him of leaking proprietary technology and working for Samsung before a two-year contractual cooling-off period expired.

In August 2015, Taiwan’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of TSMC, banning Mr. Liang from working for Samsung until the end of that year. A Samsung representative said Mr. Liang left the company in 2015 and declined to comment on the litigation.

Mr. Liang’s next stop was SMIC, which named him co-chief executive in 2017 in a news release that described him as a former TSMC senior director and did not mention Samsung. The company was founded in Shanghai in 2000 by a Taiwanese-American, and it long employed many engineers and managers from Taiwan.

Industry executives say that after Mr. Liang arrived at SMIC, the Chinese company improved the yield of its mass production and shrank the size of its chips as TSMC and Samsung had done before. Mr. Liang’s push for smaller chips again prompted clashes with SMIC executives and shareholders who also wanted to focus on less-advanced but profitable areas.

The disputes came to a head in late 2020 when Mr. Liang complained that he wasn’t consulted about SMIC’s decision to bring in Mr. Chiang, his former boss at TSMC, as deputy chairman. He aired his grievances in a letter that was published online in state-run Chinese media.

“I deeply feel that I am no longer respected and trusted, and I feel that you probably no longer need me here to continue to fight for the future of the company,” Mr. Liang wrote in the letter, according to the copy online. He wrote that he had led a team of more than 2,000 engineers to complete the development of 7-nanometer technology at SMIC.

Two years later, SMIC has completed that development, Mr. Liang remains at the company, and his former boss no longer works there. Mr. Chiang could not be reached for comment.

Write to Yang Jie at jie.yang@wsj.com

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