SMIC Shaoxing project completed commissioning: monthly production capacity exceeded 70,000 pieces

According to Zhejiang Daily, the SMIC Shaoxing project in Shaoxing, Zhejiang has successfully completed the commissioning of the wafer equipment chain. The monthly production capacity of 8-inch wafers will be increased to 70,000 pieces, and the yield rate is as high as 99%. This means that the production capacity of domestic chips will be greatly improved, which can effectively alleviate the shortage of chips on the market.

It is understood that the SMIC Shaoxing project held a groundbreaking ceremony in 2018 and announced the official mass production of the project in January 2020. SMIC Shaoxing is mainly responsible for the mass production of 8-inch wafers, which will be used for chip manufacturing in the fields of smart cars and smart home appliances.

At the same time, SMIC already has a mature 14nm process mass production capacity, and its 12nm process also started trial production last year and is expected to complete mass production this year. At that time, SMIC will meet the production needs of some domestically-made CPU chips, which will greatly help the country to realize chip freedom.

This year the world is facing a serious shortage of chips. One of the key reasons is the surge in market demand, but the chip production capacity is insufficient. At present, 8-inch and 12-inch wafers are the most widely used in the semiconductor field. The two types of wafers are used in chips in different fields. Among them, 8-inch wafers are mainly used to produce battery chips, photography/fingerprint recognition sensors, smart hardware MCUs, and wireless communication chips. The 12-inch wafers are used to produce high-performance chips such as CPUs and logic ICs.

It can be seen that although 12-inch wafers are more advanced, the application market is relatively limited. However, the application fields of 8-inch wafers cover consumer electronics, communications, automobiles, and other fields, which are urgently needed by the market. In the past two years, with the rapid development of smart home appliances, smart cars, and IoT, the capacity demand for 8-inch wafers has been exacerbated.

Market demand has increased, but global 8-inch wafer fabs have not increased but decreased. In 2007, there were 199 8-inch wafer fabs worldwide, with a monthly production capacity of 5.6 million wafers. Subsequently, 8-inch wafer fabs began to decrease, some were directly closed, and most of them switched to more advanced 12-inch wafers. As of 2019, there are less than 200 8-inch wafer fabs in the world, which have been unable to meet the strong demand of the market.

In the eyes of many people, the more advanced the chip technology, the better. This is indeed the case, but what the market badly needs is often not advanced chips, but mature process chip production capacity. The world's most in short supply this year are chips in the field of smart home appliances and smart cars, and these chips basically only require mature processes such as 8-inch wafers and 28/14nm.

At present, SMIC has a relatively sufficient mass production capacity of 8-inch wafers and 14nm process chips, which can meet certain market needs. In a few years, with breakthroughs in 10nm, 7nm, and other process technologies, it will be one step closer to the country's realization of chip freedom.