Chinese Semiconductor Manufacturer SMIC to Introduce 7nm Node

Apr 6, 2020

In a report from cnTechPost, China's largest foundry, Semiconductor Manufacturer International Corporation (SMIC), is joining the likes of TSMC and other large foundries with the announcement of small-scale 7nm semiconductor manufacturer starting production in Q4 2020.

SMIC - Chinese 7nm to Begin Production in Q4 2020

SMIC's N+1 7nm node is set to bring a variety of improvements over its current 14nm production node such as a 20% increase in performance, an improvement in logic density of 63%, and a total die area reduction of 55% according to Dr. Liang Mengsong, co-CEO of SMIC.

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China has been a step behind Samsung and TSMC and is playing catch-up while just announcing production of 7nm while SMIC's competitors are set to begin 5nm production by the end of 2020. SMIC's existing 14nm process brought in only 1% of its total revenue while meeting 95% of China's domestic demand.

Inside TSMC's 8-inch Fab 3; Credit: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd

After production of SMIC's N+1 node begins, SMIC's high-performance N+2 process will follow. N+2 is said to be similar in terms of overall power consumption, though N+2's improved methodologies will render better performance on 7nm.

As of this time, no information is available as to when mass production of SMIC's N+1 node will begin. SMIC has not identified any potential customers, though the announcement to begin small-scale production in Q4 2020 is earlier than expected. SMIC's expenses in preparation for 7nm production will reach $3.1 billion, reaching over the company's yearly income, with $2 billion going towards assembly retooling of its 12-inch wafer fabrication plant in Shanghai and $500 million to its fabrication plant in Beijing.

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SMIC does not appear to be an imminent threat to either Samsung or TSMC, but it will be interesting to see how SMIC's 7nm process performs against its competitors. Considering SMIC's 14nm process made up a meager 1% of SMIC's total revenue, the company will need to grtow its customer base significantly to justify the massive expenditure of 7nm retooling. TSMC has already started production of its 2nd Generation 7nm node with EUV technology in contrast with SMIC which has states both the N+1 and N+2 process will not employ EUV lithography, though, in the future, this will change.