The 74-year-old Godfather of Chinese Chips Zhang Rujing changed the battlefield again

The "Godfather of China's Semiconductor Industry", is 74 years old this year. Not long ago, he just completed another career change he resigned from Qingdao Xinen and joined Shanghai Jita Semiconductor.

The legendary figure who was born in Nanjing, moved to Taiwan, made a name for himself in the United States, and founded SMIC, the leader in chip manufacturing in mainland China, has been actively involved in the construction and development of the chip industry since then: he founded the first 300mm large silicon wafer company in mainland China at the age of 66. Shanghai Xinsheng Semiconductor, founded the first CIDM (Collaborative Integrated Circuit Manufacturing) enterprise in mainland China at the age of 70, Qingdao Xinen Semiconductor...

Now, Zhang Rujing's resume has been updated again - he is the executive director of Jita Semiconductor and the dean of Jita College.

In the more than 20 years on the mainland, this well-known expert in chip factory construction has repeatedly set new precedents in the chip industry in mainland China through repeated entrepreneurship. From semiconductor materials to wafer manufacturing, every entrepreneurial project is filling the weakness of the local supply chain. link. At a very old age, he is still full of fighting spirit. He has embarked on a new journey to an integrated circuit chip manufacturing company focusing on characteristic processes.

Joined World Wide Semiconductor at the age of 49 and agreed to merge in order to build a factory on the mainland

Zhang Rujing was born in Nanjing in 1948 and moved to Taiwan with his parents when he was less than one year old. In 1970, he graduated from the Department of Engineering Science of National Taiwan University, and then entered the State University of New York at Buffalo for a master's degree.

After graduating with a master's degree, Zhang Rujing first worked in American chemical companies and liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen supply companies and then worked in Texas Instruments, an old American semiconductor giant. During this period, he was recommended to enter the Department of Electrical Engineering of Southern Methodist University for a Ph.D.

When working at Texas Instruments, Zhang Rujing successively built factories in the United States, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Taiwan, China, etc., and successfully led and participated in the construction of more than 10 wafer fabs. madman".

After resigning from Texas Instruments, Zhang Rujing joined World Wide Semiconductor in Taiwan, China in 1997. Under his leadership, three years later, Shida Semiconductor achieved profitability and became the third-largest semiconductor manufacturing company in Taiwan, China.

Due to the outstanding performance of Shida Semiconductor and the merger and expansion of UMC, the foundry leader TSMC felt the urgency and invested US$5 billion to acquire Shida Semiconductor. When Zhang Rujing was reported by CCTV, Zhang Zhongmou, the founder of TSMC, asked him whether the two parties could merge. He only made one suggestion: Can the third semiconductor factory be built in mainland China?

Zhang Rujing recalled that the proposal was not opposed at that time, and no one spoke well.

However, after acquiring Shida Semiconductor, TSMC could not fulfill its promise to build a factory in the mainland. Zhang Rujing gave up his shares in TSMC, returned to mainland China with his wife and son, and devoted himself to the construction and development of the domestic semiconductor industry.

Founded SMIC at the age of 52 and gave up Taiwanese household registration to create a chip leader

Zhang Rujing's patriotism came from his father, Zhang Xilun, a famous Chinese steelmaking expert. According to Zhang Rujing's memory, Zhang Xilun once asked him, when will he be able to return to the mainland to build a factory? This sentence has always been rooted in Zhang Rujing's heart.

This sentence is not only reflected in Zhang Rujing. At that time, more than 100 employees who founded SMIC were from overseas, and there were more than 300 Taiwan compatriots. They all returned to China because of their family and country feelings.

In 2000, Zhang Rujing and Jiang Shangzhou, then deputy director of the Shanghai Economic Commission, hit it off and co-founded SMIC in Zhangjiang, Shanghai . At the beginning of its establishment, SMIC was a global semiconductor manufacturing company. Its shareholders included foreign funds such as Goldman Sachs and Walden International, as well as Chinese companies such as Peking University Jade Bird. At the same time, in order to avoid the restrictions of the Wassenaar Agreement, SMIC was incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

The establishment of SMIC was not easy. In March 2005, Zhang Rujing was charged and punished by the Taiwan Economic Affairs Department. At that time, Zhang Rujing had both American nationality and Taiwanese household registration. Taiwan's economic affairs department accused him of "illegal investment" and sentenced Zhang Rujing to a fine of NT$5 million.

According to Jimmy Lai, a spokesman for SMIC at the time, Taiwan authorities gave Zhang Rujing two options: withdraw the investment or accept a fine. It is worth noting that at that time, many employees of SMIC had Taiwanese household registration, but they were not criticized. Jimmy Lai said: "It can be seen that the Taiwan authorities are very selective when dealing with similar matters."

Faced with a huge fine, Zhang Rujing chose to give up his Taiwanese household registration and continue to found and operate SMIC.

The establishment of SMIC has raised the wafer manufacturing strength in mainland China to a higher level. Its 12-inch wafer fab in Beijing is the first 12-inch wafer fab in mainland China. In 2003, SMIC's wafer sales rose to US$360 million, making it the world's fourth-largest chip supplier.

In 2004, SMIC was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, raising nearly US$1.8 billion.

However, the rapid growth of SMIC has attracted the attention of TSMC, the industry leader. Since 2003, TSMC has launched several patent lawsuits against SMIC.

On November 4, 2009, SMIC lost the California lawsuit brought by TSMC. A few days later, SMIC issued an announcement announcing a settlement with TSMC, which required a payment of $200 million to TSMC and a 10% stake in SMIC's total share capital. To this end, Zhang Rujing resigned as executive director, president, and chief executive officer of SMIC. According to reports, this is also one of the conditions for TSMC's settlement.

Zhang Rujing's departure did not make SMIC and himself slumped. After Jiang Shangzhou and former Hua Hong Group CEO Wang Ningguo took over as SMIC's chairman and CEO, they accelerated SMIC's development and achieved full-year profitability for the first time in 2010. After Zhang Rujing left, he continued to start his own business, and the founder of SMIC became the "Godfather of China's Semiconductor Industry".

Founded Xinsheng Semiconductor at the age of 66 and broke the 12-inch large silicon wafer

During the non-compete period, Zhang Rujing invested in and founded the LED company Yingrui Optoelectronics, whose products opened up the global market. After passing the non-compete period, Zhang Rujing continued to devote himself to China's semiconductor industry. This time his goal is to realize the localization of large-size silicon wafers.

Silicon wafers, commonly known as "silicon wafers", are the main raw material of chips, accounting for 37% of the cost of chip manufacturing materials. With the passage of time, the global silicon wafer market share has gradually been concentrated in the hands of five major silicon wafer giants, including Shin-Etsu Chemical of Japan, Shenggao of Japan, and SK siltron of South Korea, Global Wafer of Taiwan of China, and Siltron of Germany. then more than 90%.

Although mainland China is an important market for global silicon wafers, the domestic self-sufficiency rate is very low, and the production capacity of mainland semiconductor large-size silicon wafers (300mm, 12 inches) is basically zero.

In June 2014, Zhang Rujing was invited to establish Xinsheng Semiconductor in Shanghai Lingang Heavy Equipment Zone, with a total investment of about 6.8 billion yuan, focusing on semiconductor 300mm silicon wafers.

Xinsheng Semiconductor has become a breaker of domestic large silicon wafers. It has undertaken and fully completed the national 02 major scientific and technological special task of "300mm silicon wafer technology research and development of 40-28nm technology nodes", and has also undertaken "20-14nm 300mm silicon wafer complete sets". The special task of technology research and development and industrialization.

Founded Qingdao Xinen at the age of 70, there were rumors of resignation in November last year

In 2017, Zhang Rujing's three-year term in Xinsheng Semiconductor ended. At the age of nearly 70, he turned around and founded the semiconductor manufacturing company Qingdao Xinen again. Regarding leaving Xinsheng Semiconductor, Zhang Rujing responded that 300mm silicon wafers were originally made for the country. In contrast, he was more interested in IDM (vertical manufacturing model).

With a total investment of 15 billion yuan, the Qingdao Xinen project is jointly established by the Qingdao West Coast New Area Management Committee, the Qingdao International Economic Cooperation Zone Management Committee, Qingdao Aucma Holding Group Co., Ltd., and Xinen Semiconductor Technology Co., Ltd. The ultimate beneficial owner is the Qingdao Municipal People's Government.

With Qingdao Xinen, Zhang Rujing proposed the "most suitable for China" semiconductor enterprise business model CIDM, that is, collaborative integrated circuit manufacturing.

In this model, 10-15 companies jointly invest in chip design, process research and development, production, packaging, testing, and sales, and bind these companies together to achieve a win-win situation. Zhang Rujing believes that under the CIDM model, these companies can not only share resources but also reduce investment risks.

However, the establishment of Qingdao Xinen was not smooth. It was originally planned to be put into production at the end of 2019, and it is expected to be fully produced this year. In December 2019, Qingdao Xinen's main building was capped, and its 8-inch equipment began to move in. In addition, the new crown pneumonia epidemic and shareholder changes have affected the production time of Xinen.

In August last year, Qingdao Xinen announced that its 8-inch factory was successfully put into production. The production products were power chips with a yield rate of more than 90%. Its photomask factory also completed product delivery in the same period.

In September 2021, China National Bank Leasing signed two financial lease contracts to finance 2.9 billion yuan from Qingdao Xinen. In November, China National Bank Leasing issued another announcement, announcing that it signed a financial leasing agreement with Qingdao Xinen to finance 2.7 billion yuan from Qingdao Xinen by purchasing equipment first and then leasing back.

At the same time that Qingdao Xinen received new financing, there were rumors that Zhang Rujing had left Xinen and joined Shanghai Jita Semiconductor around mid-November.

Shanghai Jita Semiconductor was established in 2017, behind which is Huada Semiconductor, a subsidiary of China Electronics Corporation (CEC) and one of China's top ten IC design companies.

JTA Semiconductor is a chip manufacturing enterprise focusing on characteristic processes. It is the earliest domestic manufacturer of automotive electronic chips and IGBT chips, and has a leading position in the field of analog circuit and power device chip foundry.

Currently, Jata Semiconductor has two factories in Shanghai Pudong New Area and Xuhui District, with a total capacity of 70,000 pieces/month for 6 inches, 110,000 pieces/month for 8 inches, 50,000 pieces/month for 12 inches, and 30,000 pieces/month for built and under construction. wafers/month of SiC products.

On November 30, 2021, Jetta Semiconductor announced the completion of a financing of 8 billion yuan. This round of financing was led by Huada Semiconductor. Other investors include SAIC Group, Xiaomi Changjiang Fund, Inovance Technology, and China Internet Investment Fund.

Zhang Rujing left three times to witness the development of domestic semiconductors

In the more than 20 years of Zhang Rujing's entrepreneurial career in the mainland, he has not only witnessed the stagnation of China's semiconductor industry from the 0.5-micron process to the current complement and development of various segments but has also personally participated in and created industries such as SMIC and Xinsheng Semiconductor. important player. For Zhang Rujing, his semiconductor entrepreneurship has not come to the end, but his departure has left a better semiconductor enterprise.

Zhang Rujing left Shida Semiconductor because he could not build a factory in the mainland; he left SMIC for better development of SMIC; from Xinsheng Semiconductor, he completed the breakthrough task of domestic large silicon wafers, in order to focus more on the development of SMIC Build top semiconductor factories.

In 2022, Zhang Rujing left Xinen and joined Jita Semiconductor. This time, Zhang Rujing, who is in his 70s, did not start a business again, perhaps because there are already more semiconductors and start-ups, who are devoted to the development of domestic semiconductors .

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