China’s YMTC makes world’s most advanced memory chip in ‘surprise technology leap’: TechInsights report

Spread the love

Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC), China’s leading memory chip producer, has manufactured the “world’s most advanced” 3D NAND memory chip known to be in a consumer device in a “surprise technology leap”, according to a report by TechInights.

YMTC’s memory chip, found in a solid-state drive launched quietly in July, shows that the manufacturer has continued to develop advanced technology despite being hampered by sanctions after it was placed on the US Commerce Department’s Entity List, according to a Wednesday report by the semiconductor analysis firm.

The development follows an earlier teardown analysis by TechInsights of the Kirin 9000S 5G processor found in US-blacklisted Huawei Technologies’ Mate 60 Pro smartphone released in August, which was said to be made by Chinese foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC). The powerful home-grown chip surprised many industry analysts given the tough US restrictions in place.

“Like the innovation revealed by TechInsights in the Huawei Mate 60 Pro’s HiSilicon Kirin 9000s processor (which used the SMIC 7-nm (N+2) process), evidence is mounting that China’s momentum to overcome trade restrictions and build its own domestic semiconductor supply chain is more successful than expected,” said TechInsights in its report.

YMTC’s 64-layer 3D NAND Flash memory wafer. Photo: Handout

3D NAND memory is at the forefront of memory chip design and is an important component for high-performance computing in applications such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

YMTC and 21 other “major” Chinese players in the chip sector were added to the US Entity List in mid-December 2022 amid escalating trade and geopolitical tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

At the time, the Wuhan-based chip manufacturer had been on track to challenge memory chip leaders Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron Technology with a new flagship 3D NAND flash chip, the 232-layer X3-9070. Prospects for mass production of this chip faltered after US equipment suppliers KLA and Lam Research stopped sales and services to YMTC.

However, a recent downturn in the memory chip market and a renewed focus on cost-saving measures in the industry, may have provided YMTC with an opportunity to pull ahead with a more advanced, higher-bit density chip, according to TechInsights.

Top Chinese memory chip maker rushes to replace US parts in machinery

YMTC’s latest progress in memory chip advancement was first reported in April when unnamed sources told the South China Morning Post that YMTC had doubled down on efforts to work with Chinese suppliers to help manufacture its most advanced chips. This effort was based on YMTC’s “Xtacking 3.0” architecture and the sources said progress had been made in a top-secret project code-named Wudangshan.

Sources said that the project intended to use Chinese equipment only and that YMTC had placed big orders with domestic equipment suppliers, including Beijing-based Naura Technology Group, a leading Chinese maker of etching tools, which are also the primary product line of US-based Lam Research.

However, at the time, analysts flagged many outstanding choke points in China’s chip manufacturing supply chain, such as the lack of viable domestic Chinese alternatives for chip-making tools, such as lithography systems available from Dutch company ASML Holding. The Dutch firm has a near monopoly position in the production of the world’s most advanced extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines.

TechInsights did not comment in its report on whether YMTC’s memory chips are thought to have been produced with exclusively Chinese-manufactured tools and components.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg released a report citing unnamed sources that said SMIC had used retooled equipment from ASML, specifically its deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography systems, to manufacture the advanced processor in the landmark Huawei smartphone.

The DUV process – when producing at scale – is estimated to be more expensive than using more advanced EUV lithography systems, which ASML has been prohibited from selling to China since 2019.

However, stricter curbs on ASML’s sales to China are coming. From January 2024, the company will be prohibited from selling its 2000-series DUV machines to China under The Hague’s latest restrictions.

While recent chip breakthroughs in China have stirred domestic excitement about the country’s progress in making home-grown advanced chips, some experts caution that Chinese firms still remain years behind in producing the lithography systems needed to make real progress.

The news is published by EMEA Tribune & SCMP210520-twitter-verified-cs-70cdee.jpg (1500×750)Follow our WhatsApp verified Channel 

Support Independent Journalism with a donation (Paypal, BTC, USDT, ETH)

News Agencies

About Author

The latest news from the News Agencies

You may also like

exotic expansion llc best stock picking services

Exotic Expansion LLC: Is it one of few Best Stock Picking Services?

Spread the loveExotic Expansion LLC: You may have wondered once in a life that if you had someone who can
investing in cryptocurrencies

Are you investing in cryptocurrencies? 4 important points before you invest

Spread the loveInvesting in cryptocurrencies Driven by financial backers’ energy, the cryptographic money market as of late crossed the $3