China's SMEE successfully develops 28nm chipmaking tool, local SOE reveals

National Business Wire (Dec 20) -- Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment (Group) Co., Ltd. (SMEE) has successfully developed a 28nm chipmaking tool, a local state-owned enterprise disclosed on Tuesday.

Shanghai Zhangjiang Group Co., Ltd. (Zhangjiang Group), which is mainly responsible for the development and construction of the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, said in a post on Tencent's WeChat, "As the only domestic company that has mastered photolithography, SMEE has successfully developed a 28-nanometer lithography machine."

The post also acknowledged the strong energy that Chinese chipmakers such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (0981.HK, SMIC) and Hua Hong Semiconductor Ltd. (01347.HK) have been pumping into the foundry of advanced analog chips.

The news sparked interest on China's major social media platforms on Wednesday, sending shares of Shanghai Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Development Co Ltd (600895.SH, ZJ Innopark), of which Zhangjiang Group is a major shareholder, up more than 5% in the morning trading session.

However, Zhangjiang Group later removed information about the 28nm chipmaking tool from the article, and revised it to read "SMEE devotes itself to the development of advanced lithography machines."

Founded in 2002, SMEE focuses on the development, design, manufacturing, sales and technical services of semiconductor equipment, pan-semiconductor equipment, and high-end intelligent equipment.

The U.S. Department of Commerce placed 36 Chinese companies and entities, including SMEE, Chinese memory chip maker Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), and others, on its Entity List in December 2022, in yet another increased crackdown on China's semiconductor industry.

Notably, inclusion on the list means that U.S. companies will need to obtain licenses to export U.S. technology to these Chinese customers.

In fact, it is not the first time that news about SMEE's 28nm chipmaking tool has circulated on the Internet in China.

According to a report in the Chinese media outlet Securities Times in late July, SMEE has been able to mass-produce the SSX600 series of lithography machines with 90-nanometer resolution, and also expected to make a breakthrough for a 28-nm lithography machine.

Sources said SMEE estimates that it will deliver SSA/800-10W, China's first homegrown immersion deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machine based on 28-nm technology, to the market by the end of 2023, the report also mentioned.

SMEE's first major shareholder is Shanghai Electric Holdings Group Co., Ltd, a Chinese state-owned electrical equipment maker, according to data from Tianyancha, an online platform providing Chinese enterprise information.

Zhangjiang Group-backed ZJ Innopark invested 223.45 million yuan in SMEE in 2016 through a subsidiary, holding a 10.779% stake.

Benefiting from the concept of localization of lithography machines in China, ZJ Innopark rose as much as 57% in just seven trading days in early September.

The company has said on the Shanghai Stock Exchange's investor interactive platform that it is a park real estate company, and does not have its own lithography business.

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