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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  • CiccioB - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    This poses the basis for the production of modern DRAM chips which will overcome US production.
    If Chinese can make their own memory in house for their own market (they do not need to export it nor to come up with any patent infringement) it will be a big problem for competitors.
    Reply
  • azfacea - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    5g backbone i'd understand, but in addition the US killed china's dram. has apparently banned EUV sales to china because of "dual use millitary" applications. killed Huawei software links to google, and now is looking to bully TSMC on CPU sales to huawei, by making it choose between china and US.

    thats some deep cold war level hate the world really does not need right now. I hope china's response is to make their own ASML and Applied Materials and that will be it. if it was putin he'd reply by arming taliban or some other crazy games that takes us straight back into the 60s and 70s
    Reply
  • tygrus - Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - link

    Intel were having trouble with quad patterning for 10nm or smaller equivalent process. You don't need EUVL for all 7nm layers but it would help the transistor layers and the first wire layer above.
    Is the 63% area reduction mean an area of 14 x 14 becomes about 8.5 x 8.5? Some may call it 8.5nm when compared to their 14nm process or 10nm+ compared to 14nm from other FABS with better versions of 14nm?
    Reply
  • hyno111 - Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - link

    "SMIC first started volume production of chips using its 14 nm FinFET fabrication process"
    Reads: Yield problems with 14nm process is not solved yet.

    "N+1 lowers power consumption by 57%, increases performance by 20%, and reduces logic area by up to 63%. "
    Reads: The first node after 14nm but we do not want to call it 10nm.
    Reply
  • dotjaz - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - link

    It's up to almost triple the density of their 14nm, why would they call it 10nm? Reply
  • TheJian - Thursday, March 26, 2020 - link

    Why does N+2 get EUV? You should not sell them this tech EVER. PERIOD. China needs to be kicked out of WTO and USA needs to move everything they can possible, back to USA. All pills, medical devices, and much more that is now shown a national security risk at best. IT is time to bankrupt them or get regime change. THEY are why we are here today with Wuhan Virus. 7mil escaped to everywhere before they told us. Reply
  • MarcGP - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    That's some deep racism you got there. That's not healthy, better see a doctor. Reply
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