Despite low yields and high production costs, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp ( SMIC ), the largest chip manufacturer in China, is expected to mass produce 5 nanometer chips for Huawei Technologies later this year.
Despite the US device export restrictions, Beijing wants to demonstrate to the earth that Chinese businesses are capable of achieving scientific breakthroughs, according to observers. Huawei and SMIC are determined to move forward with this expensive venture. They claimed that it is more likely a social job than one that can be done economically.
Although it is technically possible to create 5nm chips using immersion deep-UV ( DUV) lithography, the price may be significantly higher than usual, according to chip engineers. They claimed that SMIC might be able to produce chips with yields of 50 % and 30 % to 40 %, respectively.
According to a report by The Financial Times on Tuesday, SMIC will mass-produce 5nm Kirin systems-on-chips ( SoCs ) using its existing stock of US and Dutch-made equipment. According to the statement, SMIC is charging a 40–50 % superior for its 5nm and 7mm products compared to TSMC’s price for comparable technology networks.
According to some experts cited by the FT, the supply of SMIC’s 7 nm bits is less than one-third that of comparable products from TSMC.  ,
According to Burn Lin, a former vice president of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and present dean of the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan’s Hsinchu, Huawei and SMIC is use already-existing DUV technology to produce 5nm, but the price will be higher.  ,
According to him, four-time structuring technique, which includes various exposure and etching processes, is necessary for the production of 5nm cards with a DUV printing. If exposure are not done correctly, the numerous patterning is time-consuming and may produce a low yield, he said.
Instead of attempting to impede China’s advancement, in his opinion, the US may concentrate on maintaining its leadership in chip design. He emphasized that Beijing had implemented a “whole state” approach to bolster its chip industry.
Local engineers and technicians should assist the nation in achieving excellent self-reliance and strength in science and technology by making advances in primary technology in important areas and creating high-quality projects, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated at the National Engineer Awards ceremony on January 19.
7 nm bits
Unexpectedly, Huawei unveiled the Kirin 9000s processor in the Mate60 Pro model past August. Afterwards, engineering experts discovered that the SMIC used DUV lithography to create the 7nm device using the N 2 process.  ,
Huawei unveiled the Qingyun L540 notebook, which uses a Kirin device called 9006C, in December 2023. Previously, observers had guessed that Huawei had made new technological advancements.
The 9006C cards came from the products delivered before TSMC was prohibited by the US from producing chips for Huawei in the middle of September 2020, according to TechInsights, a American tech solution service.
SMIC is preparing its 5nm method through DUV, according to an unknown industry source who spoke with South Korean news site The Elec in December. According to him, the photomask utilization is anticipated to rise and the DUV source don’t keep up with demand in China.  ,
A photomask in a printing device is an thick plate with visible areas that let light pass through to create exposure.  ,
The estimated yield of SMIC’s 5nm method using the latest DUV hardware will be between 30 and 40 %, according to a tech writer at the Vancouver-based news website Wccftech.com.
The supply of SMIC’s 7nm or smaller chips has never been disclosed. According to Reuters, the supply rate for SMIC’s 7nm process is below 50 %, according to some experts.
Early in 2017, TSMC started to create 7nm memory cards using the N7FF process and intense- ultraviolet ( EUV) lithography. The Japanese chip manufacturer previously produced 7nm with a supply of 76 % using DUV printing.
According to media reports, TSMC has already increased the yield of its 7nm and 5mm chips to 93.5 % and 80 %, respectively, in 2019. TSMC is currently producing 3nm cards with a 55 % supply, in contrast to Samsung’s 60–70 %.
According to some experts, SMIC created the Kirin 9000S using ASML’s NXT: 2000i.  ,
Caijing.com reported next November that there were fewer than five ASML networks in China that were as sophisticated as NXT: 2000i, according to an unnamed expert in the chip-making sector.
For all shipments of ASML’s most cutting-edge soaking Detector printing systems, the NXT: 2000i, and later absorption systems—which are the most advanced—it announced last June that it would need to use for trade licenses from the French government.
It announced on January 1st of this year that the French government had partly revoked its authorization for the delivery of NXT: 2050i lithography systems to China starting at the start of the year.  ,
However, it was not specified if its import authorization for the shipment of NXT: 2000i had also been revoked.  ,
In fact, SMIC can also use the NXT:1980Di, an older generation of immersion DUV lithography, to make 5nm or 7 nm bits but the yield will be even lower.
@jeffpao3 Following Jeff Pao on Twitterat .