Weekly news roundup: Nikon expresses worries over rising Chinese competition in lithography

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

These are the most-read DIGITIMES Asia stories in the week of April 1 - April 5.

Nikon shows concerns about emerging Chinese competitors in lithography

Chinese media reported that Masahiro Morita, general manager of the semiconductor lithography business unit of precision equipment group at Nikon, said the rise of China-based semiconductor equipment suppliers is pressuring the Japanese company. Separately, Naura Technology, which drew Nikon's attention during SEMICON China, reportedly began preliminary research on lithography systems in March. Once the Chinese company successfully develops the system, it is expected to challenge Nikon's semiconductor equipment business for mature nodes in China.

India's homegrown microprocessors claim 'generation minus one' benchmarking

In an interview with DIGITIMES Asia, V. Kamakoti, director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, said India's Shakti and Vega microprocessors operate at the "generation minus one" performance level. This means India's self-developed microprocessors have achieved what the latest contemporary counterparts did two to three years ago. Kamakoti said the benchmarks depend on the specific silicon and Process Development Kit (PDK) used and other factors.

Latest Update: TSMC said EUV equipment all safe and sound

Within 10 hours of being hit by the strongest earthquake in Taiwan, TSMC said more than 70% of its fab equipment was recovered. The recovery rate of new fabs also surpassed 80%. The company also said its most critical machines, including all extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment, stayed intact, while a few pieces of other equipment were damaged and affected some production lines. TSMC emphasized its extensive experience and capabilities in earthquake response and disaster prevention.

No single country can monopolize semiconductors, says former TSMC R&D chief

In his speech at the 2024 Taiwan Semiconductor Day in Tokyo, Burn-Jeng Lin, former TSMC VP of R&D, said the diverse developments of semiconductor technologies make it difficult for any single country to dominate the entire supply chain. He also said countries like the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have their various specialty in design, light sources, materials, etching, deposition, inspection, or volume production along the semiconductor supply chain. None of them can monopolize semiconductor technologies.

Russia de-risks through Chinese foundry and RISC-V

According to an anonymous source, Baikal Electronics, a Russian chipmaker, may have turned to a China-based pure-play foundry for chip manufacturing as Russia has undergone sanctions resulting from its conflict with Ukraine. Founded in 2012 as a fabless semiconductor company, Baikal is also eyeing the open-standard instruction set architecture RISC-V since it could not access advanced chips and Arm technologies.

Taiwan chip supply chain likely to resume normal operation in 1 day amid strongest earthquake in 25 years

After a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan on April 3, the island's Hsinchu Science Park Administration said no major impact on the semiconductor supply chain is expected and operations remain stable. A source at ASML Taiwan told DIGITIMES Asia that all the company's engineers were helping customers resume semiconductor equipment after the earthquake. The operation would return to normal in one day if things go well.

Did Huawei achieve smartphone win at the expense of SMIC?

SMIC's net income plunged by 60% in 2023 after the company successfully made Huawei's Kirin 9000s chips with its 7nm node process. According to DIGITIMES Research senior analyst Luke Lin, it is widely believed that manufacturing the Kirin 9000s chips may not benefit or impact SMIC's financials due to the high cost and low average yield of chips per wafer of the multi-patterning process using immersion deep-ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines. Lin said the unit cost of SMIC's advanced chips is higher than that of production with a similar process from TSMC or Samsung.