Another blow to China’s goal of semiconductor autonomy
It is believed that China’s semiconductors’ self-confidence has increased from time to time with continued pressure from the United States.
follow up Bloomberg, two major US semiconductor equipment suppliers, Lam Research and KLA Corp., have received a new government directive requiring them to export equipment to China needed to manufacture 14nm or smaller chips. In the meantime, the current limitations only apply to technologies at 10nm and below.
At the same time, the US asked the Netherlands to block semiconductor company ASML from sending its deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography system to allies in the world’s most populous country. ASML is currently the only company offering DUV machines worldwide.
Experts say the US’ new move will hurt China’s goal of becoming self-sufficient in semiconductors because it cannot import machines to make the chips.
Saravan Kundojala, Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said: “Ongoing US activity could pose a major problem for chip foundries in China, although how effective these restrictions will be remains to be seen. “Founders need tools from multiple vendors, but if one of them doesn’t support them, everything can fall apart.”
According to Wang Xiaolong, head of research at ICWise, a Shanghai-based semiconductor consulting firm, the new move in the US means more trouble for Chinese chipmakers. “They have to find a way to import essential equipment,” he said.
Companies considering ending their cooperation with China may also suffer huge losses. Both Lam Research and KLA see China as an important market for their early growth as it is one of the largest consumers of IC products in the world.
According to a financial report based on 2021, Lam Research’s sales in China will reach 14.6 billion. It accounted for 26 percent of the company’s total sales last year and was a leader in other markets.
Earlier this year, both warned of falling sales due to limited product supplies for partners including SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker. SMIC has been on the US sanctions list since 2020. February. And it is forced to produce chips in a process of 28nm and above.
But China’s chipmaking ambitions have also taken a direction. According to semiconductor research firm Tech Insights, SMIC recently made a breakthrough in manufacturing 7nm chips without using an advanced ultraviolet (EUV) lithography system. In addition, the company has been researching FinFet 14 nm technology since 2019. and FinFet N+1 in 12nm process this year. However, products based on this technology are still being tested and are not yet widely available.
Another chip company, Hua Hong Semiconductor, is said to be developing 14nm technology for logic chips, but its main products are older 350nm and 90nm chip models.
Bao Lam (Consequences SCMP)