Two years ago
we wrote about
that the Chinese government has launched a very large-scale import substitution program for electronics and components. The country is investing about $ 1.5 trillion (this is not a typo) in the development of its own enterprises, which, according to the plan, should produce modern chips. This is done in order to solve the problem of US sanctions, which have closed China’s access to American technology.
A year ago, an article was published about the plans of the largest microelectronic company in mainland China, SMIC, to build the largest factory in the country. The cost of this project was about $ 9 billion. Well, now it became known that SMIC is ahead of schedule – it has launched the production of 14 nm chips, plus it is already mastering 7 nm and 5 nm technical processes. China has a lot of plans, in general, and we’ll talk about it under the cut.
14 nm process technology without American technologies
The other day it became known that China managed to establish not only the production of 28 nm chips, as mentioned earlier, but also 14 nm, a completely modern technical process. Such chips are suitable for installation in modern devices; this technology can no longer be called obsolete. Of course, this is not 5 nm or 3 nm, but still on the basis of 14 nm chips it is possible to develop quite productive modern gadgets for both the mass consumer and the corporate sector. The first to reach this level was the company SMIC, which was mentioned above.
Wu Jincheng, Head of the Shanghai Municipal Commission for Economics and Digitalization announced thatthat the company has worked with this process technology before, but previous projects could be called pilot ones. But now mass production of chips made using this technology has started.
The company is not going to stop there – according to SMIC representatives, work is already underway to master more modern technologies, including 7 nm and 5 nm. And few people have any doubts that China will succeed. Of course, TSMC and SAMSUNG switched to 4nm, but as they say, it’s a start. By the way, the company started mastering 7 nm a year ago, and possibly even earlier. So, SMIC produced 7 nm chips for the needs of miners. The chip is not the newest, it is on sale starting in the summer of 2021. Images of the “opened” chip, according to experts from TechInsights,
show a certain similarity of technologies
which is used by SMIC with Taiwanese TSMC technologies. But no matter how big the question is, how things really are, since the conclusion was made by a relatively small group of specialists. Well, now, as far as you can understand, SMIC has moved to the next stage.
It turns out that SMIC managed to do without imported EUV equipment, which the US authorities have banned from supplying to China. Well, or in some way the company was able to get this equipment, which, however, seems unlikely. Since US companies are prohibited from working with SMIC, it is unlikely to fulfill third-party orders from the US. But the Chinese market is simply huge, so there are more than enough customers here. Government representatives say that the development of the 7 nm process technology is ahead of schedule. About 5 nm so far they only carefully mention that, in general, it’s right – you shouldn’t make a loud statement in advance.
Not a SMIC single
It is clear that this company is not the only one who is actively working on the development of modern technical processes. There are enough other companies in China that also receive funds from the state to implement a large-scale import substitution project.
An example is another corporation from Podnemesnoy. So, AMEC in 2021 announced the development of its own equipment for the production of 5-nm chips. The same company announced the provision of equipment for processing 300-mm silicon substrates, which can be used for a wide range of technical processes – from 65 nm to 5 nm.
Moreover, another company from China, HSMC, began to deploy a production infrastructure for the production of 14nm processors, and there was talk of a 7nm process technology.
There are other successes – for example, the lesser known Ziguang has developed a 512-core processor, made using a 7-nm process technology.
A joint venture between Via Technologies and the Chinese government, the company released the KaiXian KX-6780A and KX-U6880A processors. Plus, another chip is the KX-6640MA X86 processor with a core frequency of 2.1 GHz with the ability to overclock to 2.6 GHz.
Well, Huawei began to build its own plant for the production of modern chips. For starters, the processor, which is called the Kirin 9006C, is made using a 5nm process technology. This is an eight-core chip with a core frequency of 3.13 GHz. Huawei is building the factory together with SMIC, another fairly well-known company from China.
Produce in China and video cards. In the spring of 2022, the MTT S60 and MTT S2000 adapters were introduced. The author of the project is the company Moore Threads, it was able to go from idea to real devices in just a year. As for the cards, the first is designed for installation in personal desktop PCs and high-performance workstations, it is equipped with 8 GB of LPGDDR4X memory. But the second, with 32 GB, is intended for installation in servers. The manufacturing process is 12 nm, not the most modern, but it is quite enough for the goal set by the Chinese. So, MTT S60 copes well with League of Legends with high graphics settings at a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels (Full HD).
With a high degree of probability, China will be able to achieve its goals – if not all, then at least part of it. A couple of years ago, many experts predicted failure, but now the opinion of analysts and industry representatives has changed. If this is the case, then the United States will have a very serious competitor that can have a very significant impact on the market for modern semiconductor components. There is no doubt that if the Celestial Empire manages to develop modern chips of 7 nm (we are not talking about mining components) and 5 nm, then China will have many customers who previously used the services of companies that depend on American technologies. And this can lead to an unpredictable round of evolution of modern technologies and the market.