Exclusive interview: Focus on 5G base station and terminal applications, homemade MLCC alternatives have been accelerated
On July 3, Electronica China 2020 was grandly opened. Chen Yongxue, Director of Eyang Strategic Development Center, was invited to accept an exclusive interview with www.elecfans,com, predicting the prospect and technology trend of MLCC products in 5G mobile phone, 5G base station and automobile market. As one of the first echelon manufacturers in the field of MLCC in China, Eyang has been focusing on the R&D and production of miniature and ultra-miniature MLCC since its establishment in 2001, and has achieved large-scale commercial application of capacitors applied in 5G mobile phones, base stations and vehicle-mounted electronics.
Chen Yongxue, Director of Eyang Strategic Development Center
In 2020, 5G mobile phones have been shipped on a large scale in the Chinese market, and the innovation of consumer electronics has driven the market demand for MLCC. How does Eyang predict the market trend and technology trend of MLCC in 2020?
Chen Yongxue: This year, the shipments of 5G mobile phones have increased significantly, and flagship mobile phones from various manufacturers have been launched on the market one after another. The base station equipment of the three major operators has entered the stage of large-scale deployment, and operators in major overseas countries are also laying a large number of base station equipment, making full preparations for the commercialization of 5G. With more and more frequency bands and continuous integration of functions, the usage of high-end mobile phone MLCC has increased from about 70 pieces in the 4G era to more than 1000 pieces. With more power consumption in 5G mobile phones, the demand of terminal products for high-end MLCC with smaller size, larger capacitance and lower power consumption continues to rise. Eyang focuses on miniature and ultra-miniature MLCC. Focusing on the demand of 5G terminal products and mobile phones, Eyang currently provides the main sizes of 0201 and 01005, in which the size of 01005 is only 0.4mm × 0.2mm, while we can achieve the capacitance of100nF.
The application environment of 5G base station is harsh. From the demand of single macro base station for MLCC, the demand of 5G base station for MLCC mainly comes from baseband processing unit (BBU) and active antenna processing unit (AAU), in which BBU needs high-capacitance capacitor, while AAU needs a lot of capacitors with high power and high Q value. Base stations have relatively less strict requirements for the size of MLCC than that of mobile phone. However, with the implementation of the construction of small base stations, small micro base stations have a demand of 0201 for MLCC. Moreover, 5G base stations have relatively high requirements for the reliability of MLCC, with a service life of more than ten years, so they have more stringent requirements for production capacity supply and product reliability. MLCC applied in the industrial field also follows the trend.
What new heavyweight products did Eyang launch at Electronica China?
Chen Yongxue: Since its establishment in 2001, Eyang has focused on miniature and ultra-miniature MLCC, with a high concentration of customers in the consumer market, such as high-end mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, etc. With the continuous expansion of the scale, the inclination of national industrial policies to the field of precision technology components and semiconductors, through a large number of product development and technology investment, Eyang has launched MLCC products which are also used in industry, 5G base station and vehicle-mounted products.
Eyang’s small-size MLCC capacitor 01005 meets the demand of terminal products. The size of 01005 is only 0.4*0.2*0.2mm, which is very suitable for 5G mobile phone, smart wearables, built-in chip and other industrial applications. In addition, the RF high-power UPC series products launched by Eyang feature high voltage, high Q value and low ESR, which are very suitable for use in 5G base station and other RF high-power scenarios; There are also MLCC for vehicle-mounted applications. Eyang’s products have met the test requirements of AECQ200, and we are speeding up the progress of series certification.
The demand of automobile for MLCC is growing rapidly. What are the special performance requirements for automotive MLCC? What do you think of the market demand for MLCC in pure electric vehicles and ordinary fuel vehicles?
Chen Yongxue: We usually think of automobile as a complex and huge system, and there are mainly two types of vehicle-mounted demand: The first type involves safety and power transmission, and the second type is related to the comfort area. The two application scenarios may have somewhat different demands for capacitors. The former vehicle-mounted MLCC must be able to adapt to high temperature, strong vibration, impact and other harsh environment, with higher safety requirements, and must pass the test requirements of AECQ200 standard; The latter products are generally used in the cockpit, with relatively comfortable working environment. Although many customers also have the demand for AECQ200, industrial capacitors can usually meet the requirements in some scenarios.
With the worldwide promotion of global environmental protection policies, the availability of oil-fuelled automobile on the market will be stopped in many parts of the world by 2030. Emerging new energy vehicle manufacturers, with the combination of intelligent driving, electronization, informatization and networking intelligence, will have a particularly high demand for components. The demand of a vehicle for capacitor will reach 10,000 or even 15,000 pieces, while the demand of traditional oil-fuelled vehicles is just about 3,000 pieces, and the demand of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles for capacitor will reach about 8,000 pieces. There will be a huge demand for MLCC in the whole automobile market.
The industrial application field is one of the most important application markets for MLCC. What are the advantages of your MLCC products in the industrial application field?
Chen Yongxue: Eyang’s MLCC products are aimed at three types of customers, that is, consumer category, industrial category and vehicle-mounted category. For industrial applications, Eyang has set up a special series of products to meet the market demand. The industrial category has more concentrated demand for long period, high temperature, high humidity and reliability.
Industry 4.0 focuses on the full automation of the production line, reduces the impact of personnel operation, and improves the product qualified rate and process consistency. Smart factories have a demand for a large number of MLCCs.
There are many players in China’s MLCC market. What is the pain point of this market? How can your products solve the pain point of the market?
Chen Yongxue: Capacitor, as one of the main electronic components, accounts for about 60% of the passive electronic component industry for its output. There are many types of manufacturers in the capacitor industry, including aluminum electrolytic capacitor, tantalum electrolytic capacitor, thin film capacitor, ceramic capacitor, etc. MLCC accounts for more than 50% of the whole capacitor market, and its main advantages lie in its small size, good high frequency performance, long service life and large voltage range. The R&D and production of MLCC (multilayer ceramic capacitor) requires a long time of technical accumulation, and this industry is characterized by large capital investment and concentrated specialties of talents. The capacitance range and performance index of Class I dielectric MLCC of Eyang can be compared with Japanese products, which can basically achieve a full range of replacement. For Class II dielectric MLCC, there is still some gap between us and Japanese and Korean enterprises in the upper limit of capacitance. In the future, the development direction of MLCC is oriented to thin dielectric layer, miniaturization of size, large capacitance, more layers, higher voltage, higher reliability lower cost, etc. In order to better meet customer needs and enhance the market competitiveness of products, Eyang has further accelerated its layout nationwide. At present, our new R&D and production bases in East China (Chuzhou, Anhui) and South China (around Dongguan and Shenzhen) have been under construction and preparation; After the new factory is completed and put into operation, our production scale of MLCC will be 6-7 times that of the present. Under the reserve of the MLCC dielectric thin layer core technology capacity, Eyang will expand production capacity to meet the explosive growing demand of various applications in the future 5G and vehicle-mounted market.
In 2020, what is the growth target of Eyang in the major MLCC business lines?
Chen Yongxue: 2019 is the first year for the use of 5G. Eyang’s 01005 product was successfully developed in 2013. We have made sufficient preparations in technology and production capacity. At present, it has been commercialized on a large scale in high-end mobile phones, wearable products, built-in CCM and RF PA and other fields. The miniaturization of ceramic capacitors is an urgent demand for terminal products. Now our core process of 01005 has met the capacity configuration of 3 billion pieces per month.
At the 5G base station, the RF high-power UPC series products launched by Eyang feature high voltage, high Q value and low ESR, which are very suitable for 5G base station and other RF high-power scenarios, can replace the products of this specification from Japanese and American manufacturers, and have been highly recognized by industry customers. MLCC of industrial series will also be an important flashpoint for our growth.