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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/6/20

Amid U.S. restrictions, China is closer to microchip independence

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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China has recently made new breakthroughs in its 7nm chip-making process, developing tools and know-how as breakthroughs reported in homegrown semiconductor development and advanced EUV lithography machines.

It appears that US attempts to enforce trade restrictions on China over semiconductor chips, has done what many analysts predicted it has awakened a sleeping giant, according to Dave Makichuk of Asia Times.

Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, said during a recent online forum that China intends to build an entire microchip supply chain from end to end. In other words, it will no longer be dependent on US technologies, according to the country's latest five-year plan.

China moves closer to self-reliance in 7nm chip production

China has recently made new breakthroughs in its 7nm chip-making process, reportedly developing tools and know-how for several segments of the manufacturing process amid efforts to reduce reliance on foreign equipment and material vendors, according to Guo Yiming of China.org.

In October, China's chip customization solution provider Innosilicon announced that it had taped out and completed testing of a prototype chip based on the Fin FET N+1 process of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). This achievement marks a new step forward in China's homegrown chip development.

Amid major trade restrictions enforced by the United States, SMIC's new generation foundry node is said to be comparable to the 7nm process by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, Yiming argued.

As China's largest chip foundry, SMIC will introduce its N+1 7nm node, marking a significant improvement over its current 14 nm production node, boasting a 20% increase in performance, power consumption reduction of 57%, a reduced logic area of 63%, and SoC (System on a Chip) area reduction of 55%, according to the company.

Moreover, the N+1 foundry node may enable SMIC to break its reliance on advanced Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines produced by Dutch microchip machine maker ASML, according to Liang Mengsong, co-CEO of SMIC. ASML is subject to U.S. export controls as its products contain American technology.

At the same time, China is working hard to develop its own lithography system.

As the world's largest semiconductor market, China has been spending aggressively in semiconductor investment, acquisition, and talent recruitment to bolster the industry by on-shoring chip manufacturing equal to those of the world's top foundries.

A report by Goldman Sachs in July predicted that China may be capable of producing 7nm chips by 2023.

China hires over 100 TSMC engineers in push for chip leadership

Two Chinese government-backed chip projects have together hired more than 100 veteran engineers and managers from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's leading chipmaker, since last year, multiple sources have told the Nikkei Asian Review in August last.

The hirings are aimed at helping Beijing achieve its goal of fostering a domestic chip industry in order to cut China's reliance on foreign suppliers, the sources said.

China boasts the world's most new or planned chip plants and is expected to top other countries in chip making equipment spending, an indicator of investment for future chip facilities, in 2020 and 2021, according to SEMI, an industry organization. The country's top contract chipmaker, state-backed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co., recently raised its capital spending for the second time this year to $6.7 billion for 2020. It also announced it will build a $7.6 billion joint-venture factory with Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, a state-backed high-tech zone, in another sign of strong government support for chip producers.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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