Chinese Fab SMIC Will Start 14nm Production in 2019
Samuel Wan / 4 weeks ago
SMIC Will Deliver 14nm SoC in 1H 2019
When it comes to major processor fabs, Intel, Samsung, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and IBM are the leaders. Over the years, the various smaller fabs have consolidated into these giants. Due to the massive expense and expertise involved, even these fabs have troubles sometimes with reaching new nodes. However, a new upstart Chinese fabs is starting to make their presence felt. SMIC, the largest foundry in China, will be starting their 14nm customer production in 2019.
Right now, SMIC largely produces 28nm chips on 300mm wafers. The company is confident that its new 14nm process is ready for prime time. While 14nm products are likely already out in circulation, this is their first processor, a mobile SoC. With up to 95% yield, this is plenty to ensure adequate supply and low costs for customers. These chips should be starting to come out in the first half of 2019.
Plans for 10nm and 7nm EUV Underway
SMIC is starting 14nm a bit late but this node is here to stay. This is because customers are seeing prices increases for 10nm and 7nm. Usually, new process nodes bottom out quickly in prices but that return period has become longer as shrinks get harder. The company counts HiSilicon and Qualcomm among its current customers, so the new chip will likely be aimed at budget A55 or A53 SoCs from one of the two. This is despite both using 7nm for their flagship SoCs.
Despite the long stay at 14nm, 28nm will likely remain a large part of the business as well. While slower than the leading edge fabs, SMIC may soon leapfrog the likes of GlobalFoundries, at least on paper. The company is working on 10nm and 7nm nodes with the use of EUV. As part of an ambitious strategy to ensure steady chip supply for China, SMIC will likely power onto new nodes at it continues to expand into a new competitor for the giants.