Chinese Foundry Prepares Its Own 28nm Process

It won't be ready until next year though, around June or so

It looks like there will soon be a new supplier of processors based on the 28nm manufacturing process, adding to the list made up of Intel, TSMC, UMC, IBM and Globalfoundries.

To give people some perspective, 28nm is among the most advanced manufacturing technologies for semiconductors used today.

Among other things, the Kepler GK104 graphics processing unit from NVIDIA is based on it, the chip released as part of the GeForce GTX 680 card yesterday.

According to ElectroIQ website, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is putting together its own 28nm facilities.

The process technology will be of the 28nm HKMG type and should complete development in June this year (2012).

Qualification of the process will only start in June 2013 though, which means that production will be possible only in the latter half of next year.

It is interesting to note that 28nm HKMG (high-K metal gate) is the same sort offered by UMC, Intel and, most importantly, TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company).

TSMC is the one who makes the graphics processing units used by NVIDIA and Advanced Micro Devices video adapters. In other words, SMIC will be a direct rival to that chain of foundries.

On the flip side, IBM and Globalfoundries won't have to worry, since they use the gate-first approach in order to make their chips smaller.

Eventually, SMIC should be able to make both 28nm with high-K metal gate (HKMG) and low-power 28nm with poly/SiON gate.

All in all, it is intriguing that such a small and young foundry is just three or six months behind United Microelectronics Corp., one of the world's largest contract maker of semiconductors, with the 28nm fabrication process.

In related news, SMIC appears to be working on 20/22nm technology as well. Unfortunately, besides the obvious implication that it will be ready only some time after 28nm, nothing was disclosed about that particular initiative.

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