SMIC's 5nm Breakthrough to Power Huawei Mate 70 Processors

SMIC’s 5nm Breakthrough to Power Huawei Mate 70 Processors

SMIC has played a vital role in producing Huawei's Kirin chips, including the Kirin 9000S and 9010, both of which are fabricated using a 7nm process. The foundry is reportedly working on its own 5nm chip production technique.

Milestone Achievement

Recent reports from Business Korea and Hankyung indicate that SMIC has successfully reached this milestone, meaning their 5nm process is now prepared for chip manufacturing.

This achievement is remarkable, especially given the infrastructure issues SMIC faces due to US export limitations. However, the reports highlight that SMIC's new 5nm node depends on the older Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography rather than the more advanced Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) technology.

Lithography Technologies

DUV lithography employs deep ultraviolet light with a wavelength of approximately 193nm to engrave circuit patterns onto silicon wafers.

In contrast, EUV lithography utilizes much shorter extreme ultraviolet light (around 13.5nm). This shorter wavelength facilitates the creation of finer features, enabling the production of more powerful and efficient chips. Consequently, EUV is deemed essential for achieving the most advanced chip designs.

The reason SMIC cannot adopt EUV technology stems from ongoing US-China tensions. ASML, a major supplier of EUV lithography machines, is barred by US export regulations from providing its technology to Chinese foundries like SMIC. Hence, SMIC must rely on DUV lithography for its 5nm node.

Future Prospects

Despite concerns about production yield, Huawei is expected to utilize processors manufactured using SMIC's new 5nm node in its upcoming Mate 70 series.

Additionally, there are rumors of a new Huawei laptop featuring a Kirin chip designed for PCs that is purported to compete with Apple's M2 in terms of performance. Whether these rumors hold true remains to be seen.

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