Huawei is hurrying to build a wafer fab

August 24, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Huawei is hurrying to build wafer fab
Communications giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is hurrying to build a wafer fab capable of running 45nm CMOS manufacturing process, according to unsubstantiated Chinese social network reports.

Huawei is the largest communications equipment company in the world and a pioneer of 5G, but also a central actor in worsening trade tension between the US and China. The crippling embargo denying chips to Huawei, imposed and tightened by the US in 2020  (see US government reinforces Huawei chip embargo ), is causing Huawei smartphone and equipment businesses to stall for lack of chips.

Previously the company's semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon designed the chips and used foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) to get them made. The US is saying both design and manufacture depend on US technology and are not allowed without a special license.

To try and circumvent embargo Huawei has finalized plans to establish a wafer fab with the first production line due to be finalized by the end of 2020. The plan is codenamed "Project Tashan" meaning courage, daring or attitude, depending on your dictionary.

The social network report says Huawei is working with several semiconductor supply chain companies to get the production line up but 45nm chips are not sufficient to re-start Huawei's business which is being denied 7nm and similar leading-edge chips by the embargo.

Huawei also plans to build a 28nm production line although the details are yet to be decided.

Shanghai Microelectronics, one of Huawei's partners in Project Tashan, builds its own lithography machines for manufacturing 28nm chips and Huawei entered into a partnership with the company at the end of June when it became clear that domestic foundry SMIC would not be able to meet Huawei's volume requirements. Shanghai Microelectronics has future targets of 11nm and then 7nm manufacturing processes.

Related links and articles:

US government reinforces Huawei chip embargo

US embargo causes Huawei to run out of Kirin processors

UK prepares to kick Huawei out of 5G by 2023


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