CCP-owned SMIC Caught Copying TSMC’s 7nm Chip Design

According to a report, Chinese foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) has been shipping 7-nanometer process node chips to U.S. bitcoin miner MinerVa since July 2021. TechInsights claimed that the “first photos imply it is a near duplicate of TSMC 7nm process technology.”

 TechInsights, a Semiconductor industry watcher says, SMIC has produced a 7nm node that appears to be nearly flawless, despite not having access to sophisticated semiconductor production tools and US sanctions to restrict SMIC’s access to US technologies and suppliers. As the node develops in SMIC’s labs, this could eventually lead to real 7nm logic and memory bitcells.

 SMIC first mentioned its 7nm process technology in 2020. In March last year, SMIC CEO Liang Mengsong told the public that the company has already overcome the 7nm wafer technology and successfully carried out “risk trial production.” The official trial production was planned to carry out in April 2021. At that time, Liang also revealed SMIC’s plan to launch 5nm and 3nm research and development.

 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has not responded to the news that it suspected SMIC’s 7nm chips were copied from TSMC’s designs. 

 In 2002 and 2006, TSMC sued SMIC twice for plagiarism of process technology, and embarked on an eight-year dispute over plagiarism of trade secrets. 

 In 2009, a settlement agreement was finally reached in which SMIC granted TSMC an 8% equity stake in SMIC at no cost as part of the settlement, in addition to an instalment of $200 million in compensation to TSMC. In the agreement, TSMC could subscribe for 2% of SMIC at HK$1.3 per share for three years. However, TSMC is actively disposing its equity interest in SMIC in 2019, reducing its stake to 0.2% when SMIC is delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

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