The analytical company TechInsights, which is responsible for opening up various chips for independent analysis, has identified the Chinese manufacturer SMIC's use of the 7th process in the production of ASIC chips for bitcoin, and it has previously been thought that SMIC is producing only 14 nm chips and experimenting with the 12 nm process; in practice, it has been found to be a massive supply of 7 nm products since last year.
TechInsights acquired to analyze the MinerVa chip of SMIC production. A study of the silicon chip structure showed that elements of the Chinese chip are very, very similar to those observed by TechInsights engineers at the opening of the Taiwan TSMC chips. Analysts are not prepared to claim that SMIC copied the TSMC technology, but provide the latter with an excuse to initiate legal proceedings for possible technology theft.
It should be recalled that there is no surprise in the ability of SMIC to produce a conditional 7 nm chip. The production of bitcoin chips is, by the way, ideal for running over new processes, which also confirmed the autopsy. Such chips have repeated structures and contain a minimum memory cell.
TSMC, when moving from a process with 14 nm to 7 nm, promised to scale its output slightly better, with a growth rate of up to 35%, but provided similar savings in consumption, thus preventing the SMIC product from looking worse. SMIC uses classical 193 nm laser scanners for the production, while TSMC uses partially the 13.5 nm EUV scanners.
It's probably 7 nm of the SMIC process that costs a little more than 7 nm of the TSMC process at the expense of more exposures to each critical layer of the chip, but under the pressure of sanctions, it doesn't matter. Does the Western partners of China understand? Apparently, they understand, so they're also trying to ban the supply of 193 nm scanners to China.