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The total investment is 1.8 billion yuan! Huawei's optical chip factory capped: accelerate the realization of full autonomy from R&D to manufacturing

chipmall.com | HUAWEI | 05/01/2021

On the afternoon of December 2nd, according to the official information released by China Construction Eighth Engineering Bureau, China Construction Eighth Engineering Bureau built Huawei’s first domestic chip factory—Wuhan Huawei Optical Factory Project (Phase II) FAB2 main plant on November 30 The topping of the main structure was successfully completed.

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Wuhan Optical Factory Project Manager Xu Lei, CMWU Chengxin Engineering Consulting (Hubei) Co., Ltd. Deputy General Manager Ding Chuan, China Construction Eighth Engineering Co., Ltd. Central China Company Deputy General Manager Zhang Shuo, Hubei Branch Deputy Manager Shi Xiuying And all project management personnel participated in the topping ceremony.

According to the official website of China Construction Eighth Engineering Bureau, the Wuhan Huawei Optical Factory project is located in the center of Wuhan Optics Valley, with a total construction area of ​​208,900 square meters. The construction content includes FAB production plant, CUB power station, PMD software factory and other supporting facilities. The largest R&D base in the central region, focusing on cutting-edge technologies such as optical power centers and intelligent terminal R&D centers. After the project is completed, it will be put into production as Huawei's first domestic chip factory (mainly to produce its self-developed optical communication chips and modules for Huawei), helping Huawei build a smart world with all things connected, and truly realize the chip design, manufacturing, packaging and testing And a complete industrial chain invested in the consumer market.

With the explosive growth of global network transmission traffic, optical communication modules have now become the cornerstone of modern high-speed Internet. The optical communication chip is the core component of the optical communication module, which accounts for more than half of the cost of high-end optical modules, and as the transmission rate of optical modules increases, the proportion of optical chips in the cost of optical modules will also increase. .
Strictly speaking, optical chips include multiple types of components, such as laser chips, modulator chips, coupler chips, beam splitter chips, wavelength division multiplexer chips, and detector chips. After these chips/devices are integrated, peripheral circuits are added to form an optical communication module, which is widely used in optical network construction such as routers, base stations, transmission systems, and access networks.

As a leader in the global communications equipment market, Huawei has long started to deploy optical chips, the core device in the field of optical communications. As early as 2012, Huawei acquired CIP, a British photonic integration company. Then in 2013, Huawei acquired Caliopa, a Belgian silicon-optical technology developer. Through these two acquisitions, Huawei officially entered the optical communication chip market. Up to now, Huawei has invested in optical communication chips for six years and has been able to achieve self-sufficiency in some products. It has self-production capabilities in many fields such as optical chips (including 25G EML), modulators, silicon photonics (SiP), DSP, and has mastered the world's leading 800G optical chip technology.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC in 2019, Huawei President Ren Zhengfei revealed, “Now we can make 800G optical chips, which the world cannot do. The United States is still far away.” Then in February 2020, Huawei officially opened in London. "The industry's first 800G adjustable ultra-high-speed optical module" was released. According to reports, the 800G optical module uses an optical digital signal processing (oDSP, Optical Digital Signal Processor) chip independently developed by Huawei. oDSP is the most core component in the entire transmission system, and its chip capability will directly determine the system transmission capability.

A big problem that optical communication technology generally faces is the huge gap between laboratory testing and actual use. Limited by the various imperfect factors in the real network, optical communication technology will cause many systemic differences, making people feel that "inside the laboratory-outside the laboratory" is completely two worlds, so Huawei creatively based on oDSP The algorithm has invented two core patents: the first is CMS technology (Channel Matched Shaping), which aims to fill the gap between the actual network and laboratory testing, and based on the actual transmission link conditions, system-level transmission performance Optimization; the other is the optical layer AI (Artificial Intelligence, artificial intelligence) neurons: a distributed architecture is adopted to monitor all key parameters of the optical layer in real time in the entire network.

It is worth noting that as early as 2017, Huawei planned to locate its optical chip R&D center and factory in the UK with an investment of up to billions of pounds. In 2018, Huawei purchased 500 acres of land in South Cambridgeshire, England. Start the planning application process in early 2019. On June 25, 2019, Huawei officially announced that its first phase of planning in the Cambridge campus has been approved, mainly for the development and manufacturing of optical chips. The planned land area of ​​the first phase is 9 acres with a construction area of ​​50,000 square meters. The planned investment scale is 1 billion pounds. It is expected to bring more than 400 jobs. After completion, it will become Huawei's overseas optoelectronic business headquarters.

However, in July this year, the British government officially blocked Huawei's 5G and announced that it would stop purchasing new Huawei equipment from December 31, 2020. In addition, Huawei equipment currently used in the UK's 5G network must also be removed before 2027. This may affect the construction of Huawei's optical chip factory in the UK to a certain extent.

In contrast, as Huawei’s first optical chip factory in China, with the smooth capping of the FAB2 main plant of the Wuhan Huawei Optical Factory Project (Phase II), it is believed that Huawei’s optical chips will soon be put into production at the Wuhan factory.

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