Author Topic: SMIC bypasses US curbs to make 7nm chips to power Huawei phones  (Read 204 times)

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SMIC bypasses US curbs to make 7nm chips to power Huawei phones
« on: September 06, 2023, 12:44:55 PM »
Pic: a Huawei phone equipped with a processor manufactured by SMIC can run as fast as Apple’s iPhone. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), a Shanghai-based chipmaker, is said to have advanced its technology and supplied 7-nanometer chips to Huawei Technologies, bypassing the United States’ sanctions.

The sanctioned Chinese chipmaker hires Taiwanese engineer and uses secondhand equipment to make chips that are equivalent to Apple’s.

After Huawei unexpectedly announced on August 29 its plan to sell the Mate60 Pro, some analysts had speculated that the phone’s central processing unit (CPU) chipset, the Kirin 9000s, could have been made either by TSMC before the US curbs took effect in September 2020 or by SMIC with its latest technology.

The latest analysis shows that it is the latter case: SMIC has already developed the N+2 processing knowhow to use deep-ultraviolet (DUV) lithography to make high-energy 7nm chips.

Speed and performance testing conducted by Canadian research firm TechInsights for Bloomberg showed that Mate60 Pro’s speed reached 350 megabits per second, which is on par with Apple Inc’s iPhones. It found that the phone is equipped with 5G wireless capabilities and a system-on-chip (SoC) processor made by SMIC.

This news has caused considerable excitement. In an article published on Monday, Lu Xingzhi, a semiconductor analyst, comments:
Assuming that SMIC is making 169 square millimeter wafers with an 80% yield, it needs to have a N+2 production capacity of about 144,000 wafers. If it has to produce them within six months, its monthly production must reach 24,000 wafers, which is much higher than expected.

Lu says if these estimations are close to reality, it means that Chief Executive Liang Mong-song and his team have made a significant breakthrough in SMIC’s 7nm chip technology. He says other industry players should pay attention to this development.
Via X, Huawei, Asiatimes, Image: Handout