US bans export of technology used in 3nm chip production • The Register

The United States strictly bans the export of four technologies related to semiconductor manufacturing, calling the protection of the elements “vital to national security”.

Announced Friday [PDF] by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and promulgated today, the rule will prohibit the export of two ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor materials, as well as certain types of computer-aided electronic design technology. computer (ECAD) and pressure gain combustion technology (PGC).

In particular, the BRI said that gallium oxide and diamond semiconductor materials will be subject to new export controls because they can operate under more extreme temperature and voltage conditions. The Bureau said the ability makes materials more useful in weapons.

ECAD software, which facilitates the design of a wide range of circuits, comes in specialized forms that support all-around-the-gate field-effect transistors (GAAFETs), which are used to scale semiconductors at 3 nanometers and less.

PGC technology also has “widespread potential” for ground and aerospace uses, the BRI said.

The four items are classified under Section 1758 of the Export Control Reform Act, which covers the production of advanced semiconductors and gas turbine engines. These types of technology are also covered by the Wassenaar Arrangement, reached in 2013 between the United States and 41 other countries, which functions as a broader arms control treaty.

“We are protecting the four technologies identified in today’s rule from harmful end use by enforcing controls through a multilateral regime,” Assistant Commerce Secretary for Export Administration Thea D said. Rozman Kendler, in a statement. “This rule demonstrates our continued commitment to enforce export controls with our international partners.”

The reason for adding the four forms of technology to export controls is a change made in May to how the BRI characterizes emerging and foundational technologies. As part of the change, this technology has been reclassified to be covered by Section 1758.

China a target

The BIS statement announcing the export ban made no mention of countries, but recent events make it clear that the target is China – the US has considered further tech export bans (and investment freezes), all of which appeared to be designed to target China.

Middle Kingdom analysts claimed the ban would have little short-term impact on China’s chipmaking industry, as no one in China has yet managed to design chips as advanced as those covered by the ban.

SMIC, one of the leading chipmakers in China, started producing 7nm process chips, but more importantly, it did so using the Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography process rather than Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV). ).

Although short-term effects may not occur, Xiong Jun, an analyst at Wuxi-headquartered Guolian Securities Co Ltd, said future breakthroughs in 3nm and sub-3nm technology “will be slowed down.” because of the ban, Chinese news service Caixin reported. ®

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