HUAWEI Mate 60 Pro teardown reveals China’s chip advancements

The HUAWEI Mate 60 Pro smartphone comes with a 5G processor and system-on-chip (SoC) called Kirin 9000s, according to TechInsights’s recent report. Unlike before when it was made in Taiwan’s TSMC, this time, it’s manufactured in China.

TechInsights is examining the HUAWEI Mate 60 Pro in their lab in Ottawa, Canada. They want to confirm if the processor uses SMIC’s latest generation process called N+2 7nm, which is a significant development for Chinese manufacturing.

Key takeaways from TechInsights’ analysis:
  • Processor Size Increase: The Kirin 9000s die measured 107 mm², slightly larger (2%) than the Kirin 9000’s die (105 mm²). This information led the team to conclude that SMIC was indeed the manufacturer.
  • Advanced Technology: Initial lab results indicated that this die is more advanced than SMIC’s 14nm process node, but with larger critical dimensions (CDs) than seen in a 5nm process.
  • 7nm Features: Further measurements on the die’s critical dimensions (CDs), including logic gate pitch, fin pitch, and lower back-end-of-line (BEOL) metallization pitches, showed that the die indeed possesses 7nm features.

Unlike the previous N+1 7nm technology, the N+2 7nm process offers improved scalability and yield, addressing previous production challenges.

This marks the first commercial use of an advanced Chinese process technology node supporting bitcells (embedded SRAM), paving the way for a fully domestic advanced SoC design and manufacturing ecosystem.

Commenting on the findings, Dan Hutcheson, Vice Chair of TechInsights, said:

The discovery of a Kirin chip in the new Huawei Mate 60 Pro smartphone, which was manufactured using SMIC’s 7nm (N+2) foundry process, is a testament to the technical progress and resilience of China’s semiconductor industry, even without access to EUV lithography tools.

This achievement poses a significant geopolitical challenge to countries that have sought to restrict China’s access to critical manufacturing technologies, and may result in even greater restrictions in the future.

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