SMIC growth controlled by US licensing

March 26, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
SMIC growth controlled by US licensing
US suppliers are making progress with the US government to supply China foundry SMIC of chip manufacturing equipment, but only for the 14nm node and above, according to analysis firm TrendForce.

As a result SMIC is being forced to slow the development of FinFET technology and focus on 'More-than-Moore' processes behind the leading edge, according to TrendForce.

The analyst predicts SMIC will suffer slight loss of share in the foundry market in 2021. While the global foundry market grows 11.1 percent – from $85.1 billion in 2020 to $94.6 billion in 2021 – SMIC's share of that market will fall from 5 percent to 4.2 percent. The suppliers through which the US is controlling SMIC's development include Applied Materials, Lam Research, KLA-Tencor and Axcelis. While the US continues to prohibit the supply of equipment at 10nm and more advanced nodes this prevents the long-term development of the foundry.

It is notable that China's share of the foundry market is set to drop from 6 percent in 2020 to 5 percent in 2021 while Taiwan's share will go from 55 percent to 56 percent. SMIC obtains over 80 percent of its revenue from the 40nm, 55nm and 180nm nodes running a variety of processes, logic, BCD, eFlash, sensor, RF, and HV, according to TrendForce.

TrendForce stated that geopolitical factors and uncertainties of supply in chipmaking equipment have compelled SMIC to scale back its capital expenditure and shift its development focus to the 55/40nm and 0.18um nodes. The company is also planning a joint-venture fab in Beijing. This may push SMIC to grapple with a chiplet form of manufacturing, which is predicted to be of growing significance over the next several years. About 50 percent of SMIC's revenue comes from China with another 20 percent in the Asia-Pacific region.

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