China is still ‘3-4 generations’ away from advanced semiconductor technology

Even with billions of dollars spent developing its domestic semiconductor industry, China still doesn’t have the capacity to produce state-of-the-art chips.

Semiconductors appear in everything from smartphones and computers to cars and home appliances. Mario Morales, vice president of research firm IDC, said that China is still “three or four generations” behind in terms of advanced technology. According to him, technologies like 16nm or 14nm and below mainly come from Taiwan and South Korea, the rest from Intel of the US.

China is not yet able to produce the most advanced semiconductors. (Photo: CFP)

The semiconductor manufacturing process is extremely complex, requiring particularly expensive machinery. The more balls sold, the more powerful and efficient the chip. Basically, nm refers to the size of the transistor. The smaller the number, the higher the number of transistors per 1mm2 chip.

Currently, companies like Samsung or TSMC have produced a large number of 7nm chips. Korea and Taiwan are two rivals in the field of high-end semiconductors. In the past few years, China has mentioned the need for autonomy in key science and technology, including semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and poured a large amount of money into research and development (R&D).

Beijing stepped up efforts when the US targeted domestic technology firms such as Huawei and SMIC with sanctions in the context of escalating tensions between the two powers. Chinese giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and Meituan have all started to invest in semiconductor development.

Mr. Morales explained that, despite the strong investment, China still needs access to both the software and equipment needed to produce high-end chips. Semiconductor companies are now focusing on old technology, producing less modern chips for use in sensors, microcontrollers, power management or other areas to meet domestic demand. They are especially essential in the general supply chain.

This is the way to survive and develop and increase the market share of the Chinese semiconductor ecosystem. According to Morales, the country needs time, possibly more than a decade, before becoming more competitive, at least in terms of modern technology. He mentioned SMIC, China’s largest and most important chip maker. They have the capacity to produce 28nm chips and start testing 14nm technology. Since domestic users have not yet used this technology, SMIC needs partners and customers in the US or Europe, even Taiwan, to scale up and reduce costs.

Du Lam (According to CNBC)

According to


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *