Intel could want to avoid problems with the American government with this step, as Nikkei Asian Review suspects. Just a year ago, Intel wanted to gain access to the Chinese chip market through its collaboration with Unisoc, which was set up by the then CEO Brian Krzanich. The agreement was scheduled to run for several years.
At present, however, the American government is unlikely to be enthusiastic about American companies helping the Chinese semiconductor industry with technology transfers to set up their own chip industry. Intel denied that the decision had been made in response to political pressure, but that economic considerations were the only decisive factor. "We both decided not to continue the partnership," said Robert Topol, general manager of Intel's 5G Strategy and Program Office at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The pro-government Chinese newspaper Global quotes Xiang Ligang, whom she introduced as an analyst for the communications industry in China, saying that while the end of the cooperation was a shame, it could not stop Unisoc from continuing to develop 5G chips independently. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Unisoc presented the 5G platform "Malaku" and its first 5G modem "Ivy510".
By 2014, Intel had invested $1.5 billion in a 20 percent stake in Tsinghua Unigroup, from which Unisoc had emerged. According to TrendForce, Unisoc achieved a turnover of around 1.6 billion dollars last year. The IC manufacturer supplies companies such as Vivo, ZTE, Lenovo, Micromax, Lava and Samsung.
Currently, the US wants to exclude Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE from building the 5G infrastructure for security reasons and is urging allies to do the same. In addition, the US government is defending itself against espionage and IP theft, which it accuses Chinese companies of.
This has already had an effect in the case of Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a Chinese manufacturer of DRAMs who wanted to start production of the memory ICs in its own Fab Ender in 2018. Micron accuses the company of stealing IP. The affair has also had an impact on Foundry UMC, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit's technology partner. American companies are no longer allowed to supply machines for IC production to Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit. Because large parts of the equipment for semiconductor manufacturing are manufactured by American companies, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit cannot start DRAM production as planned.