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posted by martyb on Friday November 15 2019, @03:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the smaller-faster-cheaper dept.

SMIC Begins Volume Production of 14 nm FinFET[*] Chips: China's First FinFET Line:

SMIC has started volume production of chips using its 14 nm FinFET manufacturing technology. The largest contract maker of semiconductors in China is the first company in the country to join the FinFET club, as only a handful of companies have managed to develop fabrication processes that rely on such transistors. SMIC's FinFET line is considerably smaller than those of other foundries, yet the fact that the company is using it is already a big deal for China.

SMIC's previous-generation manufacturing technology is 28 nm, so the 14 nm process tangibly increases transistor density, boosts performance, and lowers power consumption, which naturally enables the company to produce more complex and expensive chips that were otherwise outsourced to its larger rivals. At present, SMIC ramps up production using its 14 nm process technology at one of its 300-mm fabs, so initial volumes are not high. Meanwhile, SMIC's plans include building up a new 300-mm production line for 14 nm and thinner process technologies with a monthly capacity of 35,000 wafer starts per month. Construction of the fab was completed earlier this year and the company is currently installing production equipment.

In addition to ramp of its 1st Generation FinFET platform, SMIC's development of its 12 nm process is well underway and there are customers who plan to use the technology. Furthermore, the company is developing more advanced processes, including those that will require extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) tools, that will be used next decade. In fact, the company has even acquired an EUV step-and-scan system from ASML[**], but it has not been installed so far.

[*] Wikipedia FinFET entry.
[**] ASML home page and Wikipedia entry.

The Chinese GPU manufacturer Jingjia Micro has been reportedly working on a "28nm" GPU that could take on Nvidia's "16nm" GTX 1080. Improved (but not "industry leading") process nodes from SMIC could allow Chinese companies to pump out dirt cheap hardware that can compete favorably with products from the likes of Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. Here's a video (13m37s) about how there could be a 5-way GPU market (Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Jingjia, and ARM).

Previously: China Lags Behind Other Countries in Semiconductor Manufacturing
China's SMIC Produces its First "14nm" FinFET Chips

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  • (Score: 2) by jasassin on Friday November 15 2019, @04:27AM (1 child)

    by jasassin (3566) <> on Friday November 15 2019, @04:27AM (#920610) Journal

    This is great news. The only reason NVidea and AMD make any significant progress is because they're competing. I can't wait to see what Intel is going to offer. I hope Jingjia gives NVidea and AMD a kick in the butt.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Friday November 15 2019, @04:53PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday November 15 2019, @04:53PM (#920719) Journal

    I think the deal is that Intel will offer 128 EU for mobile, and 256 and 512 EU discrete options. Compare to the 24 EUs they have typically had for mobile, with 64 EU only coming recently [] with Ice Lake.

    Obviously there will be performance improvements for discrete cards that aren't limited by mobile power constraints. []

    Later generations (2021+) could actually live up to the "Xe" name by pasting GPUs together in an MCM [].

    Jingjia GPUs may not escape China so it will be interesting to see what kind of market effect they have. Broadly speaking, lithography production local to China for the Chinese market could eventually alleviate some of the capacity shortages elsewhere (Intel can't make enough chips, AMD has to wait in line behind Apple and Huawei).

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