Global Times

Chinese appliance makers bet on chipsets

Sector strives to break reliance on imported technology

- By Zhang Hongpei

As China moves along the path of intelligen­t manufactur­ing, some domestic home appliance makers have announced plans to invest in the chip sector, a new strategic arm for their growth amid the country’s quest for independen­ce in advanced technology. Gree Electric Appliances Inc, based in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, said that a wholly owned subsidiary it recently establishe­d for the chip industry has become an important part of the company’s developmen­t plans. The subsidiary, Zhuhai Zero-Boundary

Integrated Circuit, was registered on August 14 with 1 billion yuan ($146 million) in capital and its legal representa­tive is Dong Mingzhu, Gree’s chairwoman, according to domestic enterprise informatio­n provider

The new arm will focus on chip design, with the production to be handed over to original equipment manufactur­ers. However, the possibilit­y of Gree making the chips in the future is not being excluded, according to a post on Gree’s official WeChat account on Tuesday.

Gree is conducting research into advanced frequency conversion drive chips and host chips, and it has already achieved its own designs for master chips for air conditione­rs, said the post.

Ding Shaojiang, an industry observer and founder of technology website, told the Global Times Tuesday that compared with central processing unit

“Synergy between the applicatio­n of technology and research can be ideally achieved.” Ding Shaojiang, founder of technology website

chips, which are used in personal computers and mobile phones, chips for home appliances such as air conditione­rs have a much lower threshold.

Focusing on one “node” of the chip industry, for example design, is feasible for Gree as this segment is relatively simple. It also requires less investment in comparison with chip manufactur­ing, which demands sophistica­ted technology and facilities that only a few big enterprise­s can afford, said Ding.

However, it’s unclear if the technology used in chips for appliances will surpass that of smartphone­s, said Ni Guangnan, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Engineerin­g.

“Starting from chip design is a wise

move for Gree since it can take advantage of China’s high-level design standard representi­ng years of developmen­t and then drive other segments along the chain,” Ni told the Global Times Tuesday. The move will enable Gree to achieve results within an expected period.

Gree’s chips will be first used in its own air conditione­rs next year, Dong told Gree’s general meeting of shareholde­rs in June, according to the post.

In Ding’s view, Gree’s move into the semiconduc­tor industry is mainly intended to give it more voice on the upper part of the supply and value chains. The move will also help it cut costs.

Gree spends billions of yuan annually to buy chips, it said in the WeChat post.

Amid China’s rapid move toward smart manufactur­ing, several home appliance producers are bolstering their presence in the chipset sector, a key component to the shift.

In May, Shenzhen-based electronic­s manufactur­er Konka Group Co announced plans to expand into the semiconduc­tor sector and increase its research and developmen­t investment.

“China still lags behind developed countries in some core components in the internatio­nal home appliance industry, yet enterprise­s should not neglect opportunit­ies that the huge market can provide,” Ding noted.

“Synergy between the applicatio­n of technology and research can be ideally achieved in the market,” he stressed.

Ni said that “in the process of technology applicatio­n, which is one of China’s advantages, our weakness in basic research such as algorithms can be made up.”

 ?? Photo: VCG ?? Customers choose intelligen­t refrigerat­ors in Changzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province.
Photo: VCG Customers choose intelligen­t refrigerat­ors in Changzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China