South China Morning Post also reported that Washington is lobbying the Dutch government to block ASML Holdings, which has a dominant position in the production of advanced chip-making machines, from selling to mainland Chinese foundries, including SMIC.
InJuly, TechInsights reverse-engineered a MinerVA bitcoin mining processor made by SMIC and reiterated the Chinese chipmaker’s technological breakthrough despite having zero access to the industry’s most advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography systems from ASML.
The research firm also noted that SMIC took only two years to reach 7-nm capability even “without access to the most advanced Western equipment and technologies.” TSMC and Samsung had taken three and five years, respectively, to reach the same level.
SMIC is likely to have implemented process integration choices deployed by TSMC, as “there are many similarities in process technologies, designs and innovations between SMIC’s 7-nm and TSMC’s 7-nm.”
Analysts and experts said that it is technically possible for SMIC to produce 7-nm chips with existing deep ultraviolet systems under the leadership of co-CEO Liang Mong Songa semiconductor industry veteran who was previously an executive at TSMC.
SMIC was added to the US Commerce Department’s so-called Entity List in December 2020. The sanctions, which prevent it from buying US-origin technologies, would be an obstacle to its development of technology below 10-nm, used to make advanced processors for smartphones and computers.