China’s largest chip maker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) has copied Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) chip designs for the 7-nanometer models, according to a Taiwanese media report.
SMIC’s 7nm processes, which were unveiled in 2020, were used in Bitcoin mining computers, as well as being used in the production of semiconductor technologies, allowing the company to match chipmaking giants such as Intel Corporation, TSMC and Samsung Foundry.
Apparently, the design used by SMIC is very similar to that of TSMC and the company is having a hard time creating new technologies beyond 7nm.
According to an article published by the United Daily News (UDN) the 7nm chips built by SMIC are virtually the same ones built by TSMC. The Bitcoin miner where these chips were found is from the American company MinerVa.
The chip in question is the MinerVa 7 processor, capable of delivering 105 tera-hashes (TH) per second with a consumption power of 3,300 Watts, according to the company. SMIC has refrained from communicating the public details of its chip manufacturing technologies, and the MinerVa 7 is the company’s first 7nm product to be released.
Despite this, as several researchers and industry insiders explain, while SMIC’s manufacturing of the 7nm product is impressive, it is unlikely that the company will be able to make progress in advancing technologies such as 5nm and 3nm without having access to EUV machines. In the chip-manufacturing world, Intel, TSMC and Samsung have progressed beyond the first generation of EUV machines to reach new distances. These machines, called High-NA, improve the resolution of circuit printing and allow companies to create more advanced chips.
Considering that SMIC may struggle to gain access to new EUV machines, it is possible that it may not be able to break through to new technologies.