China could come to the forefront of semiconductor technology in just three or four generations of the technology according to Mario Morales, an analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC), who spoke to CNBC. China has spent billions to build up its semiconductor industry which requires skilled technicians to operate expensive machines that conduct lithography.
According to Morales, China is around three or four generations behind the leaders in the semiconductor industry meaning it’s mainly producing 16-nanometre and 14-nanometre chips and below. Morales said that the current leaders are Taiwan and Korea but also perhaps America’s Intel.
Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) are already producing 7-nanometre chips that are present in some modern smartphones but this doesn’t mean China’s products are sitting idly on shelves.
The semiconductors coming out of China are being used for applications such as power management, microcontrollers, sensors, and other consumer-related segments. These sales will help China upgrade its software and equipment which will help it unlock more advanced semiconductors. In terms of years, Morales believes China has about 10 years of work ahead of it to catch up with industry leaders.