SMIC first started volume production of chips using its 14 nm FinFET fabrication process in Q4 2019. Since then, the company has been hard at work developing its next generation major node, which it's calling N+1. The technology has certain features that are comparable to competing 7 nm process technologies, but SMIC wants to make it clear that N+1 is not a 7 nm technology.

When compared to SMIC’s 14 nm process technology, N+1 lowers power consumption by 57%, increases performance by 20%, and reduces logic area by up to 63%. While the process enables chip designers to make their SoCs smaller and more power efficient, its modest performance gains do not allow N+1 to compete against competitors' 7 nm technology and derivatives. To that end, SMIC positions its N+1 as a technology for inexpensive chips.

A SMIC’s spokesperson said the following:

“Our target for N+1 is low-cost applications, which can reduce costs by about 10 percent relative to 7nm. So this is a very special application.”

Notably, SMIC’s N+1 does not use extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL), so the fab company does not need to procure further expensive equipment from ASML. Which isn't to say that the company hasn't considered EUV – the company did acquire an EUV step-and-scan system – but it has not been installed, reportedly because of restrictions imposed by the US. As a result, it will be SMIC’s N+2 that will use EUV.

The foundry from China plans to start risk production using its N+1 technology in Q4 2020, so expect the process to enter high volume manufacturing (HVM) sometimes in 2021 or 2022.

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Sources: SMIC, EE Times China

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  • Foeketijn - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    Just want to mention, I get a French cookie request.
    Dutch browser, on a German IP. The contact link at the bottom doesn't bring me any closer to somebody I would like to be in contact with.
    User agent Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 9; SM-G955F) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/80.0.3987.149 Mobile Safari/537.36
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  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - link

    Thanks for the heads up.

    At face value, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly odd about a French cookie. With the number of advertising networks our publisher uses, you'll generally see numerous cookies.

    None the less, if you do want to contact someone on the publisher side of things:
  • Foeketijn - Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - link

    Sorry, I don't know the right english semantics.
    What I meant was, the whole "Do you allow to store tracking cookies bla bla bla" popup is in French.
  • brucethemoose - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    So they're passing GloFo now?

    At this rate, they'll be right behind the bleeding edge fabs soon, which is a big deal. HiSilicon won't have to rely on TSMC (or Samsung) anymore, which is politically akward for a *number* of reasons.
  • Eliadbu - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    At those levesl it is about money and lots of it. If GloFo had deep pockets as TSMC or Samsung they could get the 7nm EUV to mass production since they are private and they did not bring any profit they had to change their course. Now although SMIC is a public company it's one of the Chinese companies that are heavily underwritten by Chinese government, as the Chinese government sees independence in chip development and manufacturing as top national interest and the Chinese government has hundreds of billions to invest on their local leading technology companies.
  • wr3zzz - Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - link

    Semiconductor is nothing like cars. 80% of making cars is variable cost while 90% of semi is fixed cost. You still need thousands of engineers in addition to billions of dollars, otherwise you might as well just set a fire to that pile of money. You can't produce good engineers like printing money.
  • Frenetic Pony - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    Not really, bleeding edge fabs cost billions and billions and billions and each iteration get exponentially more complex and more expensive and longer to develop. They're getting billions and billions from the Chinese government but with this huge virus recession they may well get their funding cut off next month.

    There's a reason there's only 3 cutting edge foundries left, and that's because it's just insanely complex and unaffordable to compete in this industry. Even if they keep getting funding it's not like TSMC, Intel, or Samsung are slowing down. Hell Samsung just committed billions more to compete with TSMC and Samsung. Just like with the "Chinese car manufacturing miracle!" that some have speculated would happen, for like a decade now without it panning out, SMIC could just as easily never catch up or even go under.
  • dotjaz - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    Recession? You do realise China is largely finished with the virus, right? Everywhere else is going into recession which is why they will need to spend to avoid being dragged down as well.
  • TheJian - Thursday, March 26, 2020 - link

    Exactly. They probably dosed the whole country with zpak+hydroxychloriquine (SP can't be bothered to look it up). It was probably a billion or two for that bill as they likely make the pills for under a buck each. Does a billion people with both, done. Before they got that they just killed infected by locking them up (welding doors shut, dumping truck loads in front of businesses etc). We can't do the same in USA, but doubtful we'll be affected for much longer once 10K doses that went to Cuomo get shown to be working. We will tell Merck or Phizer etc to make them in mass quantity and dose the public with both for 6 days or so. Done. However, shutting down has done massive damage already (3.3mil unemployed vs. 200K last time checked, could be 10mil next week). Go back to work, 1000 is not worth killing the whole economy. Heck 30K isn't worth that and the flu kills that yearly. We don't shutdown for the flu either! Not for mers, sars, etc.

    Just do the same as you do for the flu season. Wash hands, stop touching face while out in public touching crap all day etc. If you GET sick, stay home for the week. IF you have old people around you, stay away from them as much as possible, and they should do the same already! Maybe 60+ ages don't work in dangerous places for a while until we get more data on it after people are dosed with all the different ways we're currently looking at (even plasma for really sick can keep them going until pill popping can happen). Once we have a few ways of knocking it out, send even the older workers back to work in full.

    Smart small shutdowns, not the entire country for basically NO reason (compared to all the things that kill FAR MORE yearly that we do NOTHING like this for).
  • MarcGP - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    Indeed, "it's just another flu" /s

    This kind of attitude got us where we are now in Spain and Italy. There is so much wrong in what you say, you haven't learn anything of what's happening on other countries. It doesn't matter, you will see it soon enough in New York.

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