The New York Times, Conflict in Taiwan threatens global electronics supply chains… China makes its own microchips.
Posted on 1.9.2022
It is no coincidence that the Taiwanese call the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company “the sacred mountain, the protector of the nation”.
Taiwan is the world’s largest producer of the most advanced microchips, and its blockade could halt exports of the microchips companies need to make phones and drones, build supercomputers and cellular networks, and even build new weapons. .
The New York Times reported in a survey that “tech companies around the world rely heavily on advanced chips from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Taiwan’s largest chipmaker, making it a vital strategic asset for Washington and Beijing. The outbreak of a military conflict could damage the global digital infrastructure”.
The newspaper considers: “that a web of dependencies helps keep the peace. China’s reliance on this company and other Taiwanese chip companies deters the Communist Party from occupying the island.” Except that this conclusion on the part of the NYT seems outdated since China is building its own 7nm chips very similar to those of TSMC
Indeed, Chinese chipmaker SMIC has been shipping 7nm chips for a year now. An analysis of these shows that the underlying process is very similar to that of TSMCreported the ITDaily website in the article published on 7/25/2022.
China’s microchip industry suffers from US embargoes and therefore lacks access to advanced manufacturing materials. Chinese chipmaker SMIC has nevertheless developed a 7nm node. For a year, SMIC has been selling chips for bitcoin mining based on its own 7nm process.
TechInsights analysts disassembled the chips and concluded that the manufacturing technology used is very close to that of TSMC. The company speaks of a copy. Everything indicates that China and SMIC stole technologies from TSMC. It’s hardly surprising. TSMC has already filed two lawsuits against SMIC on suspicion of plagiarism.
The chips that SMIC currently manufactures on the node are not that complex. They show that the company can progress, even under sanctions. The node used is one to two generations behind what is the norm today for high-end chips, but it is still very much up to date.
In the long run, the fact that SMIC can manufacture the chips could certainly be important. China is investing a lot of money in initiatives to become independent from the United States for its microchips. The 7nm chip shows that China can more or less design a project as it pleases if necessary.