SMIC details N + 1 process technology: 7nm performance in China

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SMIC details N + 1 process technology: 7nm performance in China

SMIC began mass production of chips using its 14nm FinFET manufacturing process in the fourth quarter of 2019. Since then, the company has worked hard to develop its next generation main node, which it is calling N + 1. The technology has some features comparable to competing 7nm process technologies, but SMIC wants to clarify that N + 1 is not a 7nm technology.

Compared to SMIC’s 14nm process technology, N + 1 reduces energy consumption by 57%, increases performance by 20% and reduces the logical area by up to 63%. While the process allows chip designers to make their SoCs smaller and more energy efficient, its modest performance gains don’t allow N + 1 to compete with 7nm technology and derivatives. of competition. To this end, SMIC positions its N + 1 as an inexpensive chip technology.

A SMIC spokesperson said the following:

“Our goal for N + 1 is low-cost applications, which can cut costs by around 10 percent compared to 7nm. So this is a very special application. “

In particular, SMIC’s N + 1 does not use extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL), so the fab company does not need to obtain additional expensive equipment from ASML. Which is not to say that the company did not consider EUV – the company acquired an EUV scan and scan system – but was not installed, according to U.S. restrictions. Consequently, SMIC’s N + 2 will use EUV.

The Chinese foundry plans to start risk production using its N + 1 technology in the fourth quarter of 2020, so the process is expected to go into high volume production (HVM) sometime in 2021 or 2022.

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Sources: SMIC, EE Times China