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China moves closer to self-reliance in 7nm chip production

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
BEIJING, Nov. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by China.org.cn on China moves closer to self-reliance in 7nm chip production.
China has recently made new breakthroughs in its 7nm chip-making process, reportedly developing tools and know-how for several segments of the manufacturing process amid efforts to reduce reliance on foreign equipment and material vendors.

image.jpg


An exhibition booth of China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) is seen at the 17th China International Semiconductor Expo in Shanghai, Sept. 3, 2019. [Photo/CFP]

Last month, China's chip customization solution provider Innosilicon announced that it had taped out and completed testing of a prototype chip based on the FinFET N+1 process of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). This achievement marks a new step forward in China's homegrown chip development.

Amid major trade restrictions enforced by the United States, SMIC's new generation foundry node is said to be comparable to the 7nm process by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry.

As China's largest chip foundry, SMIC will introduce its N+1 7nm node, marking a significant improvement over its current 14 nm production node, boasting a 20% increase in performance, power consumption reduction of 57%, a reduced logic area of 63%, and SoC (System on a Chip) area reduction of 55%, according to the company.

Moreover, the N+1 foundry node may enable SMIC to break its reliance on advanced Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines produced by Dutch microchip machine maker ASML, according to Liang Mengsong, co-CEO of SMIC. ASML is subject to U.S. export controls as its products contain American technology.

At the same time, China is working hard to develop its own lithography system.

The Suzhou Institute of Nano-tech and Nano-Bionics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Sinano), along with the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, recently announced a breakthrough in a new type of 5nm laser lithography technology. Experts believe it could lay the foundation for research into a self-developed advanced lithography machine.

The new technology has broken the traditional constraint in laser direct writing (LDW) with its ability to process at the nano level. In addition to ultra-high precision, the technology also demonstrates potential for mass production.

According to research results published in Nano Letters, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, the new LDW technology "exhibits an attractive capability of well-site control and mass production of 500,000 nanogap electrodes per hour," breaking the trade-off between resolution and throughput using nanofabrication techniques.
During the recent China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, ASML, the global leader in lithography machines, showcased its deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines, sending out a strong signal for its capability and willingness to export the equipment to China.

Previously, ASML's CFO Roger Dassen has stated that the company can export DUV lithography machines to China without a U.S. license. The technology can typically produce chips down to the 7nm node.

On the side of materials, Nata Opto-electronic Materials in east China's Jiangsu province announced that it has established China's first ArF photoresist production line, which is used to transfer electronic circuit patterns to silicon crystals in the 7nm chip-making process.

Previously, photoresist materials produced in China could only be applied in the production of chips with standards of 436nm and 365nm.

As the world's largest semiconductor market, China has been spending aggressively in semiconductor investment, acquisition, and talent recruitment to bolster the industry by on-shoring chip manufacturing equal to those of the world's top foundries.

A report by Goldman Sachs on July 2 predicted that China may be capable of producing 7nm chips by 2023.

Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, said during an online forum on Nov. 11 that China attempts to build an entire microchip supply chain from end to end, and will be no longer dependent on the U.S. technologies, according to the country's latest five-year plan.

Photo - https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1343813/image.jpg
 

jaiyam

New member
@Daniel Nenni , you have publicly said many times that China is far behind the US in semiconductor manufacturing and that it is unlikely to catch up anytime soon. The specific conversation I remember is the one you had with Tom from Moore's Law is Dead. With news like this coming out, do you expect your earlier assessment to change soon?
 

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
@Daniel Nenni , you have publicly said many times that China is far behind the US in semiconductor manufacturing and that it is unlikely to catch up anytime soon. The specific conversation I remember is the one you had with Tom from Moore's Law is Dead. With news like this coming out, do you expect your earlier assessment to change soon?

Yes and no.

Yes I am impressed by SMIC's 7nm announcement. I always put SMIC on par with UMC yet UMC does not have 7nm.

No I don't think SMIC will ever catch TSMC or Samsung, especially with the unfair embargo issues they are facing.

The key to TSMC's success is the ecosystem of partners and customers that spend trillions of R&D dollars for the greater good of the fabless semiconductor ecosystem which of course TSMC is the cornerstone. SMIC has no functional ecosystem even though the Chinese Government is spending billions of dollars to obtain one.

Sound reasonable?
 

jaiyam

New member
Yes and no.

Yes I am impressed by SMIC's 7nm announcement. I always put SMIC on par with UMC yet UMC does not have 7nm.

No I don't think SMIC will ever catch TSMC or Samsung, especially with the unfair embargo issues they are facing.

The key to TSMC's success is the ecosystem of partners and customers that spend trillions of R&D dollars for the greater good of the fabless semiconductor ecosystem which of course TSMC is the cornerstone. SMIC has no functional ecosystem even though the Chinese Government is spending billions of dollars to obtain one.

Sound reasonable?
Thank you. It makes perfect sense.
 

benb

Active member
Welcome to this forum jaiyam!
Daniel does this SMIC 7nm announcement come with any density, lithography specs (CPP, MMP) SRAM tests? Any mention of it at IEDM?
 

Paul2

Active member
Yes and no.

Yes I am impressed by SMIC's 7nm announcement. I always put SMIC on par with UMC yet UMC does not have 7nm.

No I don't think SMIC will ever catch TSMC or Samsung, especially with the unfair embargo issues they are facing.

The key to TSMC's success is the ecosystem of partners and customers that spend trillions of R&D dollars for the greater good of the fabless semiconductor ecosystem which of course TSMC is the cornerstone. SMIC has no functional ecosystem even though the Chinese Government is spending billions of dollars to obtain one.

Sound reasonable?

I'm more impressed how fast China's domestic chemical industry got 193i resist going.

Basically, China had near zero industry even for domestic sub-180nm nodes: no chemistry, no litho, no deposition, no AMHS, no metrology, no inspection, no test.

A year passed, and we have: check, check, check, check...

A looming threat of embargo was the best thing that has ever happened to China's domestic semi equipment industry.
 

hskuo

Active member
Welcome to this forum jaiyam!
Daniel does this SMIC 7nm announcement come with any density, lithography specs (CPP, MMP) SRAM tests? Any mention of it at IEDM?
It is tricky to say "it is n+1 node" but implicitly be "7nm" node without any evidence but numbers of power, performance and density.
 
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