SMIC, the largest contract maker of semiconductors in China, announced this month that it would start commercial production of chips using its 14 nm FinFET manufacturing technology by the end of the year. This is the first FinFET manufacturing line in China, making it a notable development for a country that already houses a significant number of fabs, as the world's leading-edge manufacturers never installed FinFET technology in China for geopolitical and IP reasons. SMIC in turn seems to expect a rather rapid ramp of its 14 nm node, as it anticipates the new manufacturing line will meaningfully contribute to its revenue before the end of the year.

According to SMIC, their 14 nm FinFET manufacturing technology was developed entirely in-house and is expected to significantly increase transistor density, increase performance, and lower power consumption of chips when compared to devices made using the company’s 28 nm process that relies on planar transistors. Earlier this year it was expected that SMIC would start production of 14 nm chips already in the first half of 2019, so the firm seems to be a little behind the schedule. Nonetheless, an in-house FinFET process technology is quite a breakthrough for a relatively small company that puts it into a club with just five other foundries with FinFET technologies.

One interesting thing that SMIC said about its 14 nm FinFET volume ramp is that it expects the process to have a significant revenue contribution already by the end of the year. Meanwhile, keeping in mind that right now SMIC only has two relatively small 300-mm HVM fabs (which are currently used for 28 nm – 65 nm nodes) that are heavily utilized generating 40 ~ 49% of the company’s revenue (in Q1/Q2 2019), it is difficult to imagine SMIC making loads of 14 nm chips in 2019.

Overview of SMIC's Fabs
  Process Technologies Capacity
Wafer Starts per Month
BJ 200mm 90 nm - 150 nm 50,000 Beijing, China
300mm 28 nm - 65 nm 35,000
SH 200 mm 90 nm - 350 nm 120,000 Shanghai ,China
300 mm 28 nm - 65 nm 20,000
SZ 200 mm 90 nm - 350 nm 60,000 Shenzhen, China
300 mm 28 nm - 65 m 3,000
TJ 200 mm 90 nm - 350 nm 50,000 Tianjin, China
LF 200 mm 90 nm - 180 nm 50,000 Avezzano, Italy

Earlier this year the company completed construction of its $10 billion SMIC South FinFET Fab, which will be used for its leading-edge manufacturing technologies and began moving in the equipment. Once the fab is ready for commercial operations, SMIC will be able to considerably increase production of chips using its 14 nm and then 12 nm FinFET fabrication technologies.

SMIC’s longer-term plans include 10 nm and 7 nm manufacturing processes. The latter is expected to require usage of extreme ultraviolet lithography tools, so last year SMIC acquired an EUV step-and-scan system from ASML for $120 million, which was to be delivered in 2019.

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Sources: SMIC, DigiTimes

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  • voicequal - Saturday, August 17, 2019 - link

    That is a highly romanticized view of the situation.

    Here's a different perspective:
  • ZolaIII - Sunday, August 18, 2019 - link

    That's romanthism try with 50 real war's in the last 50 years in which USAF killed real people under false pretensions and for their interest.
  • sa666666 - Monday, August 19, 2019 - link

    Hmm, found the Chinese apologist. Everything you wrote in this entire thread is basically absolving China of all wrongdoings.
  • ZolaIII - Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - link

    I never even once mentioned China & certainly didn't thought only about it when I wrote. You feel the guilt for national wrong doings of your own nation? Well don't feel it only for things you did.
  • sa666666 - Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - link

    It's obvious you're talking about China, which can do no wrong in your eyes. Also, I feel no "guilt" whatsoever, as I'm not even from the US. So how does that fit into your narrative?
  • ZolaIII - Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - link

    It doesn't fit at all. Why should it? It's only obvious to those uneducated one's that suppose things & aren't aware of essence. I might tell you a story about democracy that sent all of it's legions into war. The war that lasted for a 100 years against people who didn't know or believed in slavery. After those 100 years there whose no winners but the peace has emerged & all the Ilirs become citizens & free men & that made much more of an democracy than it ever whose. It will happen again.
  • yeeeeman - Saturday, August 17, 2019 - link

    I see Trump has brainwashed a lot of people here. While USA was reaping the benefits of capitalism and enjoying the low cost labour of China people, China people worked. And they worked their asses off for a living and by doing this they learned to improve, to get creative and make their own businesses, while Americans learned to eat more McDonald's and watch more tv shows. That is called falling behind because of lazyness and ignorance. It was to be expected that China would become a power from day one when everybody moved their manufacturing in China for higher profits.
  • eddman - Saturday, August 17, 2019 - link

    "It was to be expected that China would become a power from day one when everybody moved their manufacturing in China for higher profits."

    This is exactly it. Western countries moved almost all of their electronics manufacturing to china to take advantage of the cheap work force and yet are surprised that the country, which is not afraid of or answers to anyone, has put all that western cash injection to good use, copied their technologies, and now has become a global power.

    Western countries themselves transformed china to what it is today. They did it to themselves; all they can do now it tolerate it.
  • senttoschool - Saturday, August 17, 2019 - link

    In addition, the Chinese people actually value science, math, and engineering. In American schools, you're ridiculed as a nerd/geek if you're an intellectual. In China, you're worshipped. This is why China mints 7 million engineers/year.
  • s.yu - Saturday, August 17, 2019 - link

    That's up until high school but no further.

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