It will take at least 10 years for Chinas SMIC

It will take at least 10 years for China’s SMIC to catch up with foreign chipmakers

The leader of the national semiconductor industry in China remains the company SMIC, which deals with custom manufacturing of chips, including for foreign customers. Morningstar Asia analysts believe that without access to foreign technology equipment, SMIC will not be able to compete with foreign companies in the field of lithography anytime soon. Under such conditions, the company is inexorably challenged by US sanctions.

    Image source: Intel

Image source: Intel

According to some reports, SMIC has already mastered the production of chips that are close in characteristics to 7nm products of foreign competitors, although this was technologically difficult, since back in 2019 the Dutch authorities blocked the supply of EUV-class lithographic scanners to China. In 2020, export restrictions from the USA for SMIC were also issued.

According to cited experts CNBC, it becomes simply unprofitable for SMIC to produce the same 7nm chips in economically significant quantities, since it is too expensive to use devices of a less advanced class for this. A manufacturer can only profitably produce advanced chips worth tens of millions with the help of modern systems.

TSMC and Samsung started producing 7nm chips back in 2018, and both companies used ASML EUV scanners, which are not available to the Chinese company SMIC. Even less advanced immersion lithography lithography scanners will no longer be available to SMIC due to recent export restrictions. According to Morningstar Asia representatives, Chinese equipment manufacturers will not be able to compensate for this loss for SMIC, since their solutions are technologically inferior to the best foreign models. According to experts, SMIC is unlikely to be able to produce 5nm or 3nm chips in the next five years. It will take at least a decade for the Chinese company to bridge the gap between SMIC and TSMC. The Chinese authorities will support and financially support it in any way they can.

About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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