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China Firm Unveils Chip That Closes Gap on US Rival

YMTC’s new chip marks a breakthrough for the company and helps it close the gap on rivals including the US’s Micron and South Korea’s SK Hynix.


YMTC has developed a 232-layer memory microchip, a new report says.
Yangtze's new flash memory chip has a high bit density, but experts say mass production is unlikely in the near-term. Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this image from February 25, 2022 by Florence Lo, Reuters.

 

China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC) unveiled a new memory chip technology that helps it close the gap on rivals including America’s Micron and South Korea’s SK Hynix.

Wuhan-based YMTC’s fourth-generation 3D NAND chip, the X3-9070, is the first to feature 232 layers of memory cells, according to a report by the state-run Global Times on Wednesday.

SK Hynix  has already developed its first 238-layer memory chip, boasting a new industry benchmark, while Micron last month said it plans to start mass production of its 232-layer chip by the end of the year

Industry experts say that while YMTC is unlikely to launch mass production of the chip anytime soon, it nevertheless marks a breakthrough for the company. A YMTC spokesperson declined to comment on the Global Times report.

 

 

ALSO SEE: New US Chip Curbs on China Would Risk More Supply Chain Woes

 

 

US Mulls China Restrictions

News of the company’s breakthrough comes just days after it was reported that the US is considering restricting exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment ot companies in China that include YMTC.  

The restrictions would apply to the manufacturing of chips at 128 layers and above and if enacted could slow YMTC’s ambitions to grow its business in the same way sanctions in 2020 disrupted Huawei Technologies’ phone business.

Yangtze Memory was only formed six years ago, so it is a relative upstart in the semiconductor sector. The company’s market share remains in the single digits, but it is aggressively expanding production capacity and R&D with the help of state subsidies.

Toby Zhu, who tracks China’s chip sector at research firm Canalys, says that while YMTC’s revenue has improved over the years, gaps remain between it and market leaders.

Once a little-known player backed by the ailing Chinese state-conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup, YMTC has attracted attention in the chip industry for its fast advancements in R&D.

A report in March said that US tech giant and phone maker Apple was considering using YMTC as a memory chip supplier, which would mark a major boon for the young company.

 

  • Reuters, with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

 

ALSO SEE: SK Hynix Warns of Recession-Driven Slump in Server Chip Demand

US, Japan Chips Alliance Aims to Thwart China Ambitions

SK Group’s $22bn US Chips, Energy, Bioscience Investment Plan

Samsung Starts to Mass Produce Advanced 3-Nanometre Chips

 

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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