* Posts by orphic

15 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Aug 2021

So what if China has 7nm chips now, there's no Huawei it can make them 'at scale'


Re: What ?

SMIC is mastering process technologies especially in this case to do with multipatterning. The fact that they have to try and conjure techniques to fabricate semiconductors using multi-patterning gives them experience that they can use along with an EUV installation.

Most advanced chips are currently made using both DUV and EUV machines. EUV machines are used for the smallest features only and the wafers are then sent to DUV machines to pattern larger features. ASML is not the only company that makes DUV machines, Nikon, and Canon (of Japan) also make DUV machines, and used to be the major suppliers before ASML.

Many Western commentators view EUV - where ASML is the monopoly supplier, as some kind of Maginot line against China. This is promoted by half-baked media opinions. There are many ways that China can overcome the EUV barrier. It could pursue nano-imprint techniques along with DUV which would enable it to reach 5nm; It could pursue advanced packaging which would make it match the performance of advanced node (5nm, 3nm) chips while still using large feature sizes; finally, it could pursue research on EUV light sources that differentiate away from the laser-produced plasma (LPP) method patented by ASML. It could pursue a discharge-produce plasma method (DPP) or go for an ASML kill shot with a synchrotron approach in the form of an SSMB-EUV.

This latter method Steady State Microbunching (SSMB) could produce smaller features than an ASML machine is capable of without the need for any complex mirroring implementation.

China cooks covert chips, recruits global geeks to dodge US restrictions


Engineers from other nations?

To my knowledge, China has always offered incentives only to its expatriate Chinese community in the West. This is what these media reports don't reveal. China is not recruiting engineers from India or engineers with European backgrounds. It focuses on recruiting Chinese engineers who left China as students and work in research and technology fields. It also recruits from Taiwan.

UK PM Sunak plans to allocate just £1bn to semiconductor industry


A Flyweight in a ring of Heavyweights

In semiconductors the UK is a flyweight that cannot, nay should not enter the ring of semiconductor heavy weights. Besides the UK's puny £billion does not buy entry into this industrial poker game, not that I have any confidence that it could play a good hand if it could afford entry. There is the temptation to say, we should just sit back with our £ billion in our pocket and watch the heavy-weight stalwarts US, Japan, EU, Taiwan, China, and Korea pummel each other to the ground and then opportunistically ride in to pick up bargain pieces with our £billion. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. The spoils go to the winners with little or no crumbs for either losers or nonparticipants.

Our minimal participation in this industry stems from choices made decades ago. Choices driven more by ideology than by commonsense. The UK was a richer country when Taiwan was taking its tentative steps in seeding a semiconductor industry. Make no mistake, this seeding was planted by the Taiwanese government because, in a small country, only the government can risk the amount of capital required. The East Asians have perfected the template for industrial creation, while the US and Europe continue to look at it as some arcane mysterious entrepreneurial process driven by some Superman Bill Gates or Elon Musk.

East Asian industrial policy understands that in an industrial sector's early development, it can't - or shouldn't compete with the US because it would require access to the US market for growth. So they adopt the strategy of the pilot fish to the US shark. A pilot fish seeks a symbiotic relationship with a bigger predator for its survival and presents itself to the shark as being useful in cleaning its teeth, ridding its skin of parasites, and even wiping its anal passage. The East Asians do this for the US until they find an opportunity to share the shark's meal, which they dress up in symbiotic terms.

This is what TSMC did, it presented an architecture of operation to the US where it would bear the cost, difficulty, and environmental consequence of chip fabrication allowing US companies to dispose of their foundries. This semiconductor fabless model was a TSMC idea, predicated of course on a non-compete model with its fabless customers.

Taiwan asks US if it could chill out on the anti-China rhetoric


Re: Supposedly?

The presumption in your comment is that "95% of the world's advanced semiconductor capability" was put in Taiwan by Western design. Every Western country had the opportunity to develop a semiconductor industry in the 1980s when Taiwan initiated its entry into the industry. The UK, Australia, Canada, and all of Western Europe could have seeded a semiconductor industry in the 1980s. They didn't mainly because at least in the UK, they couldn't be a*sed. They preferred to build up service and financial industries and mostly decried the manufacturing of goods.

So it does come across, as a bit arrogant, when people who couldn't be a*sed to invest in semiconductors now suggest that an industry in which Taiwan has invested $hundreds of billions over 40 years should be transferred to them. Most wouldn't even have the trained personnel

GitHub's Copilot flies into its first open source copyright lawsuit


Re: FOSS conditions

Or as in academia, acknowledge through some form of citation.

US chip industry worried it may lose out to rivals over China ban


The problem is, American chip equipment suppliers can just about survive on the US domestic market without the Chinese market. Other non-American chip equipment companies cannot survive just on their own domestic market. And there are also indirect effects; the sanctions policy on China affects S. Korea, Taiwan, and even Japanese end users of semi-equipment. The US is asking its own companies to go on a voluntary diet while at the same time asking non-American semi-equipment companies to commit suicide by voluntary hunger strike.

China may prove Arm wrong about RISC-V's role in the datacenter


Re: A shot in the head is worth two in the feet

If China loses access to DUV and EUV remains inaccessible? Firstly, China already has an installed base of DUV machines. This is like a household losing access to buying cars when it already owns two. That scenario won't affect such a household until their current cars are obsolescent. Like Cuba with its 1950s cars or Iran with its US-purchased F14s, it would be forced to maintain those machines beyond obsolescence if necessary. So the idea of a decision knocking China back to the 1990s is flawed.

The second idea implicit in your argument is that China cannot develop DUV and EUV. This is misleading as China has a competitive ArFi DUV machine close to mass production. It could easily replace foreign DUV machines within a 5-year period. With regards to EUV, the idea of its machine complexity is both overstated and misleading. ASML's EUV machine tin-droplet LPP light source represents a triumph for non-radioactive EUV light source technology. It does not as popular media like to portray it, represent the only method of generating light source EUV.

Others have generated EUV through a synchrotron approach, which has the added advantage of not being affected by US-controlled patent hurdles. Russian, Chinese, and Japanese researchers have invested in pursuing this approach which not only provides a purer stronger light source but can micro-fabricate at lower nodes than ASML's product without messy tin splattering.

China's 7nm chip surprise reveals more than Beijing might like


Re: Hold on there

You're absolutely right but just like the other 'experts' in the commentariat, you failed to mention the 'big elephant in the room', advanced packaging. The future is going to be a trade-off between advanced node scaling and advanced packaging.

Expertise in the industrial process even with DUV would enhance a fab's ability to quickly gain fabrication skills in advanced packaging.

China seems to have figured out how to make 7nm chips despite US sanctions


Re: "Close copy"

Actually, they used to say the same thing about Russia! From Concordski, to claims of copying VSTOL designs and Russia's space shuttle.


Re: Chess. (says it all)

The US doesn't play chess it plays poker!

US expands efforts to hamstring China’s chipmaking mojo


The Chinese are on the cusp of releasing their own DUV machine, produced by SMEE. So what is the point of banning ASML from supplying DUV machines? A ban in this instance would simply leave the Chinese market without competition to China's domestic producer of lithography.

This in turn would allow them to increase sales revenue, providing funds for further research and development. ASML for its part would be partially hampered, as China is the largest buyer of its DUV, and a crucial part of its lithography output would lose sales. Increasing its reliance on one product, its EUV machines.

The Dutch government would be crazy to go along with this American request. No one else is buying DUV machines in the quantities that China is, and all non-Chinese fabs can make the switch to EUV lithography, meaning EUV competes with DUV outside China.

Strategically the US efforts make little sense as they remove the last vestiges of leverage that the US or indeed the West has over China.

China's chip-making ambitions face setbacks


Re: Why manufacture in China?

A point you forget to address is, what if other simpler methods of manufacturing at nano scale are discovered. For instance, nano-imprint is a method the Japanese are pursuing. It is altogether a simpler process than EUV manufacturing.

It is important to bear in mind that EUV manufacturing is not the end goal, nano scale engineering is the objective, irrespective of whether you achieve it with EUV or some other method.

Researchers have put forward numerous methods, such as adopting a different wafer material like carbon nano tubes. Carbon nano tubes, researchers believe are a better ideal medium for ICs or transistors.

A breakthrough in these areas can render all the investments in EUV redundant, and talking about investments, there is the presumption that everything technology sells. This was certainly not the case in the 80s and early 90s, before the internet age, computers to most people were glorified type writers.

Today most commercial advanced node manufacturing is directed towards producing ICs for mobile phones. It is certainly my personal contention that the market is saturated. Like most people I find no need to change my personal mobile phone annually to keep TSMCs fabs humming and Apple richer.

And as we approach more inflationary times (covid and Russian sanctions) with a slow down in credit, and growth of bad debts people are becoming uncertain about the future. Mobile phone expenditure is discretionary i.e. not important or necessary to households, demand for the devices could collapse.

If that happens, how then are these semiconductor fabs going to pay for their investments in EUV? The subsequent result would be the mothballing of capacity leading to a secondary market in semiconductor equipment, the latter would be disastrous for ASML.

These scenarios are not absurd or unlikely they are very real possibilities.


Re: Why manufacture in China?

2021 figures are in China has an $18 trillion GDP economy https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3163720/china-gdp-growth-2021-beats-expectations-narrowing-gap-us

While the US has remained flat due to covid. In short they're a couple of years from overtaking.

Ransomware-hit law firm secures High Court judgment against unknown criminals


Re: Canute

Sounds about right either they can be sued for "Acts of God" or they've been fraudulently misrepresenting themselves, to all and sundry, as God's representatives on earth.

UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner grills Hikvision on China human rights abuses


Typically English hypocrisy. A critique of China from the most highly CCTV surveilled society, neglecting to mention Israel which is the second most CCTV surveilled society. The condoning of Israeli CCTV surveillance of West Bank Palestinians makes a mockery of any claims of ethnic persecution through surveillance by China.

And no Israeli CCTV manufacturer has been placed under sanctions, instead Israel propagates its tech globally with a myriad of surveillance tools like Pegasus.