China Can Make 7nm Chips Without US Technology

Could China's top chip maker, SMIC, be involved, or is Huawei secretly building its own supply chain to circumvent U.S. sanctions?
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Introduction

China strides in semiconductor technology are grabbing global attention as they assert the capability to produce 7nm chips independently, without reliance on US technology.

At the center of China of this intrigue is the advanced semiconductor powering the device, which Huawei has kept shrouded in secrecy.

In this blog post, we delve into the possibilities surrounding the source of this enigmatic semiconductor.

Issue with Huwaei P60 Pro

Huawei Technologies has sparked intense speculation in China by remaining silent about the advanced semiconductor powering its new Mate 60 Pro flagship smartphone.

People are eager to know where and how this chip was made, given strict US trade sanctions. During the Mate 60 Pro’s surprise launch on Tuesday, It declined to provide details about its processor or its support for 5G mobile networks.

This prompted industry analysts, tech bloggers, consumers, and others to search for answers outside the company.

China benchmarking website AnTuTu conducted tests on the smartphone and identified the central processing unit (CPU) in the Mate 60 Pro as the Kirin 9000s from Huawei’s chip design unit, HiSilicon.

According to AnTuTu, this CPU boasts a 12-core configuration and a top clock speed of 2.62 gigahertz.

While HiSilicon’s website did not offer any information about that CPU, it’s worth noting that the firm’s existing Kirin 9000 and 9000e chipsets both support 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence applications.

These chipsets are built on the advanced 5-nanometer manufacturing process. Independent tests conducted by some consumers have also shown that the new Mate 60 Pro can achieve download speeds of up to 500 megabits per second, exceeding the 100Mbps speed requirements for 4G networks.

Could SMIC Hold the Key?Huawei

Is China top chip manufacturer, Semiconductor International Manufacturing Corp (SMIC), the mastermind behind the Mate 60 Pro’s chip?

While both Huawei and SMIC have remained tight-lipped, some clues suggest this possibility. AnTuTu, a Chinese benchmarking website, identified the CPU as Huawei’s Kirin 9000s.

Tech Insights, a research company, even went as far as to propose that SMIC may have employed its advanced N+2 node to manufacture the Kirin 9000s.

This could potentially mark a groundbreaking achievement for China’s semiconductor industry and provide a significant boost to smartphone business.

However, the lingering question revolves around U.S. sanctions, which should theoretically have hindered SMIC from producing such advanced chips.

Read more: How the US Lost Its Silicon Edge to Taiwan in 3rd Chip war

Huawei’s Covert Semiconductor Strategy

Another intriguing scenario China involves Huawei’s covert efforts to establish its own chip supply chain network.

Reports from Bloomberg suggest that Huawei has been discreetly recruiting foundries to circumvent U.S. export controls.

While this may appear unlikely at first glance, it aligns with the narrative of Huawei’s unwavering determination in overcoming the challenges posed by U.S. sanctions.

If this theory holds water, it would not only showcase Huawei’s innovative spirit but also signify a significant milestone in its quest for semiconductor self-sufficiency.

Read more: TowerJazz: Casualty of the US-China Chip War

Inventory Chips from TSMC: A Necessity or a Strategy?

A third explanation for the Mate 60 Pro’s chip source revolves around Huawei’s utilization of its existing chip inventory.

These chips could have been procured from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) prior to September 2020 when the U.S. imposed stricter sanctions on its.

TSMC, a prominent player in the semiconductor industry, relies on U.S. core technology for its silicon wafer production.

Consequently, it was compelled to comply with the sanctions. It’s strategic response may have involved repackaging and modifying older chips for deployment in the new Mate 60 Pro.

If this scenario proves accurate, it underscores the challenges posed by U.S. sanctions, indicating that Huawei is still grappling with the limitations of accessing advanced chips.

Read more: China: Too large, Too important & Too strategic to walk away from

Conclusion

The mystery enveloping Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro chip continues to captivate tech enthusiasts and experts alike.

Whether it’s a result of SMIC’s groundbreaking efforts, Huawei’s secret supply chain, or the utilization of inventory chips, the origin of this chip carries significant implications.

Beyond the confines of it’s smartphone business, the situation holds the potential to impact the global semiconductor industry.

As we await further details and revelations, it’s evident that Huawei’s semiconductor journey remains a crucial storyline in the tech world, demonstrating the complexities and resilience of one of the world’s largest tech giants in the face of adversity.

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