SMIC Forges Ahead with 5nm and 3nm Chip Plans Despite US Hurdles

SMIC Forges Ahead with 5nm and 3nm Chip Plans Despite US Hurdles

SMIC, China’s top chip producer, isn’t backing down on its plans for making 5nm and 3nm chips, despite facing obstacles from the USA. Even after completing their second-gen 7nm chips, they’re now pushing ahead to work on the next-gen processes, rallying their best team, as reported by Nikkei.

Liang Mong-Song, Co-CEO and leader of the development team, brings experience from big names like TSMC and Samsung. Richard Thurston, former top legal advisor at TSMC, heaps praise on Mong-Song, saying, “There’s no one smarter in this field.” He’s highly respected in the industry.

Since SMIC got put on the US Entity List, they’ve hit roadblocks in getting the latest machines and tools needed for making chips using the most current methods. That means they’re missing out on Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) exposure, a crucial tech.

Without EUV, their chip output takes a hit

While 7nm chips can be made using Deep Ultraviolet (DUV), finer processes usually rely on EUV. SMIC has machines that can handle 38 nanometer metal pitches. But for 5nm chips, that pitch shrinks to 30-32 nanometers, and for 3nm, it’s down to 20-24 nm.

One way out might be using multiple exposures, called Multi-Patterning. It lets them print finer details that a single exposure can’t achieve. But each pass through the process takes more time, leading to higher costs and less production.

So, besides trying Multi-Patterning, they might need to tweak their production methods and equipment to make bigger batches eventually. We’re not sure about their timeline, but rumors hint that SMIC might be testing the waters with a trial production for the 5nm chips.

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Carl Woodrow
A seasoned tech enthusiast and writer, Carl delves deep into emerging technologies, offering insightful analysis and reviews on the latest gadgets and trends.