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The new YMTC with China’s memory is approaching competitors with 232-layer chips

Semiconductor chips are seen on a computer circuit board in this illustration picture taken February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

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SHANGHAI, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Chinese chipmaker Yangtze Memory Technologies Co Ltd (YMTC) on Wednesday announced new memory chip technology that would help it catch up with rivals Micron and SK Hynix as Washington considers more sharp restrictions on Chinese semiconductor companies.

The company unveiled its fourth-generation 3D NAND chip, the X3-9070, and its first to feature 232 layers of memory cells, state-run Global Times reported on Wednesday.

That puts it close to rival Micron, which last month said it aimed to start mass production of its 232-layer chip by the end of the year. read more

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South Korea’s SK Hynix also developed its first 238-layer memory chip, setting a new industry benchmark. read more

A YMTC spokesman declined to comment on the Global Times report.

Industry experts say that while YMTC is unlikely to begin mass production of the chip anytime soon, it nonetheless marks a major breakthrough for the company.

The company’s market share remains in the single digits, but it is aggressively expanding production capacity and R&D with the help of government subsidies.

Toby Zhu, who tracks China’s chip sector at research firm Canalys, says that while YMTC’s revenue has improved over the years, gaps remain between it and the market leaders.

Once a little-known player backed by ailing Chinese state conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup, YMTC has attracted attention in the chip industry for its rapid R&D advances.

Bloomberg reported in March that phone maker Apple Inc ( AAPL.O ) considered using YMTC as a memory chip supplier, which would mean a significant benefit to the upstart.

Reuters reported earlier this week that Washington, citing a growing threat from China, is considering placing restrictions on companies that supply YMTC, barring equipment makers from selling components to the company that allow it to make chips at levels 128 and above.

The restrictions, if enacted, could derail YMTC’s ambitions to grow its business, unlike how sanctions in 2020 hit Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd ( HWT.UL )

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Report by Josh Horwitz. Edited by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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