China steadily moving towards domestic mass production of 14nm chips, which will be achieved next year, according to representative from the Institute of Computing Technology
The Chinese semiconductor industry is in the news nowadays for advancing towards mass production of 14nm chips. After gaining competency in manufacturing 28nm chips, the country is now steadily moving towards achieving the goal of mass production of 14nm chips in the coming year.
"The domestic 14nm chip has overcome many technical problems, including the realization of key equipment such as etching machines and thin film deposition, and mass application in large-scale production lines. The subsequent packaging and integration technology achievements are fully realized in mass production now," says Dr Yungang Bao, Assistant Director at the Institute of Computing Technology. All aspects of the domestic 14nm chip will be dramatically improved by mass production.
"Hundreds of key materials have passed the assessment of large production lines and entered mass sales. These achievements have basically covered the entire industrial chain system of China’s integrated circuits and reversed the passive situation of the introduction of a complete set of process technologies," he adds. With this strategy, China avoided introducing new processes for the manufacturing of 14nm chips.
The development of 28nm and subsequent 14nm chips is opening doors for new opportunities for the country. For instance, compared with the 40nm process, the 28nm gate density is higher, leading to a dramatic increase in the transistor speed by almost 50%, and the energy consumption per switch comes down by 50%. "Considering the cost and technical factors, the 28nm process will become the mid-range mainstream process node for a long period of time in the future," says Dr Bao.
The development of the 28nm technology will help the Chinese chip industry address domestic demand as it is already a mature technology and is used in new areas such as 5G, new energy vehicles, UHV, big data centers, artificial intelligence (AI), and the industrial Internet. This is significant considering that China is the world’s biggest consumer of semiconductors. Further, 28nm chips are most cost-effective and are known to consume less power while delivering high performance.
Gaining an edge by mass-producing 14nm chips
The 14nm chips are widely accepted as the most valuable process technology and their mass production is a sign of China’s advancement in the complex chip-making process. 14nm notably has vast potential for AI chips, high-end processors and automobiles.
Further, the 14nm chips are designed to meet the needs in the upcoming fields of 5G communications and high-performance computing. The main applications of the 14nm chips include high-end consumer electronics, high-speed computing, low-end power amplifiers, baseband, AI and new energy vehicles, among several others.
"More importantly, domestic 14nm mass production will not only accumulate experience in higher-end chip technology in China’s tough manufacturing process but also lay a solid foundation for the self-sufficiency rate of domestic chips to reach 70% by 2025," elaborates Dr Bao.
Growing opportunities in China
As China advances and moves from strength to strength in the chip-making industry, the country is poised to play a crucial role in supporting the global industry to overcome the crippling chip shortage.
"The current independent research and development is meant for better integration into the global market, but not moving away from the global marketing and starting a new system," says Dr Bao.
The country is steadily closing the gap with the leaders in chip manufacturing, like the US, which has a well-structured computing industry. Other countries, including the UK, South Korea, Germany and France, also have a significant presence in this sector. In addition, several European Union member states have recently come together to boost the region’s electronics and embedded systems value chain and strengthen leading-edge manufacturing capacity. EU plans to allocate around €145 billion over the next two-to-three years to promote advanced chip design and production capacity in the region.
China is also making an effort to develop diversified supply channels to meet its own massive demand for chips.
"It is recommended that Chinese and European companies increase cooperation in the field of semiconductors. With a good industrial foundation, the European semiconductor industry will flourish," says Dr Bao.
China is playing a crucial role in promoting the progress and technological innovation of the entire industry.
"With the specialization and subdivision of product application fields, the domestic technological level in the field of integrated circuit manufacturing has continuously achieved breakthroughs. For example, significant progress has been made in the research and development and industrialization of advanced and characteristic processes," elaborates Dr Bao.
As China advances and strengthens its chip-making competencies, it hopes to work with other countries for technology evolution. After developing 28nm chips, China is well on its way to mass-produce 14nm chips next year and is already working on advanced process chips like 7nm, which will bring down its dependence on other countries for chips. The country decided to become self-sufficient in chip production because of the changing geopolitical situation and the growing domestic demand for chips.
China hopes to contribute to alleviating the massive chip shortage across the globe. At the same time, it continues to narrow the gap with the established leaders in the chip industry and hopes to collaborate with other nations to develop and mass-produce high-performance chips like 14nm and 7nm.