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A Chinese chip company may be hiding its cards

A Chinese chip company may be hiding its cards

A Chinese chip company may be hiding its cards

China’s largest chipmaker SMIC is said to have successfully produced 7nm chips faster than TSMC, but has not disclosed this.

TechInsight, an intellectual property and technology analysis firm, discovered SMIC last month after Bitcoin MinerVa, which uses SMIC chips, cracked its mining chip. On August 29, TechInsight published a detailed research report confirming that SMIC’s product is a true 7nm chip.

It should be noted that the product can be produced from 2021. July. However, SMIC has not mentioned anything related to the 7nm chip in its financial reports, despite it being one of the chip company’s major milestones. According to the officially released documents, the most advanced technology they have achieved is currently 14nm, and their main products are still old chips in 28nm process.

SCMP He said he was contacted, but SMIC declined to comment on the information.

Pedestrians walk past the SMIC headquarters in Shanghai.  Photo: Bloomberg

Pedestrians walk past the SMIC headquarters in Shanghai. See: Bloomberg

TechInsight rates SMIC as “technology-ready”. Standard Components – The basic logic components used in the development of SMIC semiconductors are standardized with world-leading manufacturers such as TSMC, Samsung and Intel. It also took the company just two years to scale from 14nm to 7nm. Meanwhile, it took TSMC 3 years and Samsung 5 years to get the same results.

According to analysts, the production of 7nm chips is an unexpected success for SMIC since the West does not have access to the most advanced devices and technologies. The Chinese chipmaker cannot use ASML’s Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography system, a crucial requirement for high-tech chip production, because it is listed as a US company.

However, analysts say they can overcome this hurdle by hiring Liang Mong Song, a top semiconductor industry expert and former TSMC executive. TechInsight has confirmed that SMIC’s 7nm chip technologies and design processes share many similarities with TSMC.

“SMIC’s acquisition of 7nm chip technology may result in additional U.S. restrictions to prevent the retail industry from reviving,” said Arisa Liu, a senior researcher at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.

After December 2020. China’s largest chipmaker, which is on the US restrictions list, cannot use new technology from the US. The sanctions aim to prevent China from making chips smaller than 10nm, which are widely used in smart devices such as phones and computers. As a result, SMIC turned to 28nm technology. The Chinese chip company recently announced that it is investing 7.5 billion yuan. USD to build a 12 inch wafer production line.

Lu Kui (Consequences SCMP)

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