The Chinese technology powerhouse SMIC has sent the first batch of 7nm silicon produced after making progress in semiconductor manufacturing technology. Reverse engineering the device, TechInsights claims that the “first photos imply it is a near duplicate of TSMC 7nm process technology.”
According to analyst firm TechInsights, Chinese foundry SMIC has begun shipping chips for a Bitcoin miner SoC since July 2021 based on its 7nm process node. SMIC has produced what appears to be an almost flawless 7 nm node despite not having access to sophisticated semiconductor production tools and US restrictions placed on it. As the node develops in SMIC’s labs, this could eventually result in real 7nm logic and memory bitcells.
The TechInsights study say that TSMC, Intel, and Samsung have all created technologies that are at least two nodes more advanced than SMIC’s 7nm and significantly more sophisticated. Early in 2020, SMIC first revealed their 7nm node, and later that year, it and partner Innosilicon revealed they had taped out a chip on the N+1 version of the 7nm node.
TechInsights describes the SMIC chip in further detail, stating:
“This low-volume production product may be the steppingstone for a true 7nm process that incorporates scaled logic and memory bitcells. Since bitcoin miners have limited RAM requirements, they likely do not feature the typical bitcell memory that the true 7nm technology definition requires (both scaled logic and bitcell adoption). This chipset likely demonstrates the logic part but not the bitcell aspect,”
Due to its basic appearance and small size (4.6 x 4.2 mm), the MinerVa Bitcoin mining chip suggests that SMIC is still in the early phases of chip development. Nevertheless, while the process technology is being improved, these sorts of tiny, basic, and primitive chips frequently act as learning guide.