Japan Officially Restricts Sales of Chipmaking Equipment to China
The Japanese government on Friday formally released a list of 23 wafer fab tools subject to export controls. The decision is reportedly expected to make it more difficult for Japanese tech companies to export these items to China. NikkeiSpecifically, China’s foundry champion SMIC and NAND memory leader YMTC will not be able to procure the equipment needed to manufacture advanced chips.
Among the 23 items subject to Japan’s export controls are all immersion lithography equipment, etch equipment, tools used for chemical wafer polishing (and sometimes post-CMP cleaning), extreme ultraviolet (EUV ) includes a mask tester. Digi TimesThese devices are manufactured by 10 companies including Lasertec, Nikon, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron. The updated regulations were officially declared in May and are due to come into force in July, so it will take at least three months for Chinese companies to get the tools they need.
The list of tools subject to Japan’s export controls mimics the restrictions imposed on China by the United States and the Netherlands in recent years. However, it should be noted that Japan does not directly name China (more on this later). The latest export restrictions imposed by the U.S. government are used to make logic chips with non-planar transistors on nodes below 10nm/14nm/16nm, 3D NAND chips featuring 128 or more layers, and DRAM restricts the importation of American tools and technology that IC with a half pitch of 18nm or less. Additionally, Amsterdam and Washington restrict the sale of tools that enable Chinese companies to use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.
The only company capable of manufacturing chips at advanced nodes that rely on FinFET transistors is Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC). However, the company has historically focused on making chips at mature nodes, after the U.S. government imposed restrictions on the equipment it can use to make chips on advanced process technologies of the 10nm class and above. , has somewhat reduced its efforts to build advanced capacity. New restrictions by the US, the Netherlands and now Japan will make it nearly impossible for SMIC to scale 14nm capacity.
YMTC has already started layoffs after restrictions imposed by the US government in October, so the impact of the Japanese regulations on the 3D NAND maker is generally unknown.
Japan’s updated export controls do not explicitly target China or any other specific country as the subject of regulatory action.
Japan regulates the export of certain dual-use items under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law. Items on the export control list can be shipped without authorization to 42 countries recognized as friendly or preferred trading partners (such as Singapore and Taiwan), but exports are required to sell to countries not considered friendly. Permission is required.
Since China is not on the list of “friendly countries,” going forward, Japanese companies will need to obtain a separate license to sell one of the 23 listed tools to China-based companies. need to do it.
However, the Japanese government believes the impact of the new regulations will be limited.
According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, an official of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said, “Because the target market for the export restrictions is not large, we believe that the impact on corporate earnings will be limited.”