Miniaturization of semiconductors is causing delays in China. Most of the seven major Chinese semiconductor manufacturing equipment makers who replied to a Nikkei survey said their mainstay products were for producing 14 nanometers to 28-nanometer chips, which are two or three generations behind the world’s advanced chips. Some also said that their key items were computers from the previous generation.
Many of the respondents said that US tariffs against China had made it difficult to obtain parts and supplies from other countries. They also said that using domestic parts and products rather than imported ones resulted in lower yield rates.
“The 90-nanometer machines are our mainstay lithography machines. In terms of yield speeds, our 28 nm and 14 nm versions may be better “Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment, which is almost the first Chinese semiconductor equipment manufacturer to commercialize lithography machines, said an engineer. About the fact that lithography machines are the most complex to manufacture, ASML, the world’s largest lithography machine manufacturer headquartered in the Netherlands, is set to commercialize models for 3 nm and 2 nm devices.
Semicon China 2021, a semiconductor manufacturing equipment show held in Shanghai in March, was the site of the interview-based survey. Nikkei contacted more than 20 mainland Chinese manufacturers and only covered the ones who responded with concrete information.
Surprisingly, the respondents openly confessed to the delay in semiconductor miniaturization. “We are providing machines for 5 nm, but we market more 14 nm and 28 nm,” said a researcher at Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment (AMEC), a company that specializes in etching systems.
AMEC was one of the first firms to be listed on the STAR Index, a Shanghai-based stock exchange. Beijing’s goal of self-sufficiency in strategic sectors like semiconductors prompted the development of the industry. AMEC recorded revenues of 2.2 billion yuan ($340 million) for the fiscal year ending in December 2020, making it China’s largest semiconductor equipment manufacturer. It also outperforms other Chinese firms in miniaturization technology.