A new 12-inch wafer CIM localization project in Beijing operated by China’s leading chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), is rumored to have been suspended because the technical contractor of the project could not meet its demand for the localization of the semiconductor CIM software, Sina Tech reported on August 8. In the afternoon of the same day, FA Software responded, asserting that this report “does not conform to the facts.”
The technical contractor undertaking this project is FA Software (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., which has completed several hundred million yuan in C1 and C2 rounds of financing in 2021. Its investors include China Fortune-Tech Capital, Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co., Ltd. (PDSTI), SpinnoTec, Hubble Technology Venture Capital and Shenzhen Capital Group Co., Ltd.
According to the report, a team of over 100 employees responsible for the project have now departed SMIC’s Beijing office, and many high-level technicians responsible for the R&D of the project have begun to look for new job opportunities. Many people in the industry have confirmed the matter, but the Shanghai-based manufacturer has not yet formally responded.
A source close to SMIC made the following statement: “FA Software has invested more than 100 people in this SMIC project, and set up an R&D center in Beijing, with the longest devotion reaching one year. However, in May and June this year, after several rounds of evaluation by SMIC’s IT Department, it was finally determined that the semiconductor CIM localization demand could not be completed, and the report was given to SMIC’s executives.”
FA Software confirmed to domestic media: “The SMIC Beijing project has not been suspended, and the team is still developing software for it. Due to the repeated pandemic, the project has changed from centralized development to remote development. This can reduce the impact of the pandemic on the fab, but also improve the efficiency to meet the development needs of our customer. In addition, the current project leader and team are stable, and the relevant project personnel are still stick to their posts.”
According to informed sources, although SMIC has terminated its cooperation with FA Software, it has not publicized this matter, aiming at setting aside rectification time for the latter, which will be six months for FA Software to complete its next round of financing.
In fact, there is more than one case of cooperation between FA Software and SMIC. Previously, the former also disclosed a development and construction project involving CIM systems for an 8-inch chip production line in cooperation with Semiconductor Manufacturing Electronics (ShaoXing) Corporation (SMEC), and it claimed to have received a customer thank-you letter from SMEC’s management team.
Through its cooperation with SMEC, FA Software provides an 8-inch chip production line CIM system, while in this cooperation with SMIC, the company needs to provide a 12-inch chip production line CIM system. From a technical point of view, upgrading from an 8-inch CIM system to a 12-inch CIM system has a great leap in the middle, and the requirements for stability and reliability are raised too much.