Earlier this year we wrote that Chinese semiconductor foundry SMIC intended to offer its 7nm-class N+1 process technology for small-scale production in Q4 2020. Now Tom's Hardware reports that SMIC has indeed taped out its very first chip using the 7nm-class N+1 process. This chip is made for Chinese ASIC maker Innosilicon. However, there are doubts about whether SMIC's N+1 will ever be used for volume production due to trade restrictions.
Innosilicon, a contract designer of ASICs from China, has taped out the world’s first chip using Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.’s N+1 process technology, a 7 nm-class node for inexpensive chips. The tape out is a major breakthrough for Chinese domestic semiconductor industry in general as well as SMIC in particular as the company is trying to catch up with much bigger rivals like GlobalFoundries, Samsung Foundry, and market leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. But will SMIC’s N+1 ever be used for mass production now that the company is in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List?
SMIC says its N+1 technology offers up to 20 percent higher performance or a 57 percent power consumption reduction versus its own 14nm process. It also increases transistor density by a factor of up to 2.7.