SMIC, Huawei, imec, and Qualcomm in joint investment on SMIC’s new R&D company

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s largest and most advanced semiconductor foundry; Huawei, a global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider; imec, a nanoelectronics research and development (R&D) centers; and Qualcomm Global Trading Pte. Ltd., an affiliate of Qualcomm Incorporated, one of the world’s largest fabless semiconductor vendors, held a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, to announce the formation of SMIC Advanced Technology Research & Development (Shanghai) Corporation, an equity joint venture company. The joint venture company will focus on R&D towards next generation CMOS logic technology and build China’s most advanced integrated circuit (IC) development R&D platform.

His Majesty (H.M.) King Philippe of Belgium is visiting China in the framework of several cooperation agreements between China and Belgium related to cutting-edge technology. A Chinese leader and H.M. King Philippe of Belgium witnessed the signing ceremony of the joint investment.

SMIC Advanced Technology R&D (Shanghai) Corporation will be majority owned by SMIC, while Huawei, imec, and Qualcomm will be minority shareholders. The current focus will be on developing 14nm logic technology. Dr. Tzu-Yin Chiu, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of SMIC will be the legal representative, Dr. Yu Shaofeng, Vice President of SMIC will be the general manager.

This project is a major breakthrough in the cooperation model for IC manufacturers, international trade companies and research institutions. This project will facilitate closer cooperation between upstream and downstream companies, leading-edge R&D, and other synergies in the industry’s global eco-system. With the joint venture company oriented on innovation, it can target the demands of the industry more quickly and effectively through its R&D and manufacturing resources. Meanwhile, by enabling fabless semiconductor companies to join the development process as shareholders, the product development cycle can be shortened and the advanced process node tape out time can be accelerated.

In the first phase, the joint venture company will develop 14nm CMOS technology for mass production, which will be based on imec’s knowhow in advanced semiconductor processing technology. The new R&D project will be done at SMIC’s production line.

SMIC will have the rights to license the required intellectual property rights on the mass production technologies of advanced nodes developed by the joint venture company, enabling these technologies to be applied to SMIC’s current and future range of products and serve SMIC’s business with other companies. This can improve the overall level of China’s IC technologies, and is expected to facilitate the mass production of 16/14nm ICs in China by 2020, which is one of the goals set by the National IC Industry Development Outline. In the future, companies in China’s IC manufacturing industry, universities and colleges, and research institutions will continue working together on this platform to further enhance the core competitiveness of the industry.

Dr. Zhou Zixue, Chairman, of SMIC; Steve Chu, Vice President of Huawei; Ludo Deferm, Executive Vice President of Corporate Business and Public Affairs of imec; and Derek Aberle, President of Qualcomm Incorporated were all present at the signing ceremony.

“This is the most advanced work for China’s IC industry,” said Dr. Tzu-Yin Chiu, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, of SMIC, “With 15 years of experience in manufacturing and R&D, SMIC is China’s largest semiconductor enterprise and has the capabilities to bring 14nm technology into production. It is exciting to be working with the largest IC design company both in China and abroad, and the world’s top research institutes to tackle advanced IC process technology. This collaboration will play an important role in improving our technologies and products. The new company model has allowed us to explore a new path to open up R&D and manufacturing resources in this industry’s ecosystem, and develop our advanced technology and R&D capabilities. In addition, it actively promotes the collaboration across all parts of the eco-system in China. “

Steve Chu, Vice President of Huawei said: “Huawei has always been open to win-win partnerships. With our 20 years of experience in the IC design field and collaboration from our global partners, we are keen to promote the development of research capabilities in IC technology, to create China’s most advanced IC R&D platform. We believe that this collaboration will consolidate the IC domain, increase its resources and capabilities, and thereby improving the overall level of China’s IC industry. The improvements will provide more benefits to operators, companies, customers and partners.”

Luc Van den hove, CEO and president of imec, added: “We see a growing potential in China, both as a market and as a source of innovative engineering. The expertise of the four partners is focused on the creation of an excellent platform to foster nanoelectronics R&D in China. And the joint development of a 14nm process facility will be a step stone to achieve this goal. A step stone that, I am convinced, will benefit the world’s IC manufacturing community.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with SMIC, Huawei and imec to establish this new technology R&D joint venture company,” said Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Incorporated. “This is a significant milestone for the Chinese and global IC industries, which reinforces Qualcomm’s commitment to the continued growth of the vibrant semiconductor ecosystem in China. We believe that this venture will serve to better meet the growing needs of local Chinese and global customers who demand high performance, low power mobile devices. The collaboration will also help bring even more advanced processing technology and wafer manufacturing capacity to China, thereby helping China to build capability in FinFET technology. “


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