China’s largest foundry, SMIC announced on Friday that it will be forming a joint venture to start production of 12nm wafers in Beijing in order to help regional chipmakers weather the impact of US sanctions.
SMIC will be partnering with Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area Management Committee (BDAC) to construct factories capable of fabricating chips based on the 12nm process. As per sources, the first phase of the project will get a funding of $7.6 billion, with SMIC contributing about 51% of an initial registered capital of $5 billion.
While these chips won’t be the absolute finest the industry has to offer, they’ll give Chinese chipmakers like HiSilicon (Huawei) a fighting chance to come out of this mess in one piece. At present, most high-end chips are based on TSMC’s 7nm process, with 5nm EUV based products slated to arrive by the end of this year.
China plans to launch chips based on the 7nm EUV process by the end of 2024. Considering that most of Intel’s processor lineup is still stuck at 14nm, SMIC might not be the most backward foundry in the world.