SMIC announced a joint venture with Huawai, Qualcomm and the European IMEC research institute to develop its own 14nm process technology. China's top foundry is typically two or more generations behind world's leading foundries but the company hopes to close the gap.
At present SMIC is believed to be struggling even with its 28nm process but thanks to this deal the firm hopes to develop its homegrown 14nm process by 2020. By that time Intel, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and Samsung are expected to be making 10nm (or smaller) chips.
Full details at EE Times.
SMIC will be the majority owner of the R&D company. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed but the Imec investment is “very, very small,” said Luc Van den Hove, chief executive of Imec announcing the deal at its annual ITF event here.
“This [joint venture] is structured as an R&D company that will develop the process to be used in a SMIC fab,” Van den Hove said in a press conference here. “Imec provides support [developing] the 14 nm process, very strictly following export controls,” he said.
Tzu-Yin Chiu, CEO of SMIC, will be the legal representative of the new R&D company and SMIC vice president Yu Shaofeng will be its general manager. The 14nm node is the first target for the R&D company that presumably will work on future processes as well.
The SMIC process will presumably use the kind of 3-D FinFET transistors common at that node. However details of the process were not disclosed.