At last week’s Intel Investor Day, Intel revealed the reasons for the company’s 10nm chip delay and announced that it will release 7nm CPU in 2021. However, at the recent SFF (Samsung FoundryForum) US chapter, Samsung said that the company will also launch a breakthrough product in 2021. This product is based on the 3nm GAA (GateAllAround) process. The performance would be increased by 35%, power consumption would be reduced by 50%. And finally, the chip area would also be reduced by 45%. However, the relevant person in charge is optimistic about the prospect of Samsung 3nm chipset and he said that the cost is gradually decreasing.
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3nm depends on GAA technology!
Transistors have been a fundamental part of processors for decades, and shrinking the size of transistors is a key factor in measuring chip advancement. But in recent years, the chip industry has struggled to overcome the challenges of extreme miniaturization.
Samsung’s new products integrate GAA technology to redesign and retrofit chip core transistors to make them smaller and faster.
In fact, in earlier designs, the current in the chip circuit was always controlled by the “gate” at the top of the channel, but the GAA was different – this technique used a specific material to wrap the entire current path, similar to a 3D structure. More complicated than the previous “gate”.
Some people imagine that the GAA transistor channel is a small cylinder called a nanowire, but Samsung’s design uses a flat channel called a nanosheet.
HandelJones, CEO of International Business Strategy Consulting, said:
Samsung’s research project has achieved initial success. It leads TSMC in GAA for about 12 months. Intel may be two or three years behind Samsung. Samsung’s breakthrough may exceed Moore’s Law’s expectations, further making our phones, watches, cars and home devices smarter.
RyanLee, vice president of Samsung’s foundry business marketing, also said at the conference that GAA will mark the Samsung OEM business into a new era. Samsung’s new products are also expected to be a key step in the competition with Intel and TSMC.
Samsung 3nm chipset process roadmap
In this SFF, Samsung said that the first batch of 3nm chips will be tested in 2020 for smartphones and other mobile devices, and mass production is expected in 2021. For more demanding chips, such as graphics processors and data centre AI chips they will come by 2022.
Intel and TSMC have not commented on this matter at the moment.
So far, Samsung’s chips have been able to use the 7nm process. But it has not stopped here, and Samsung continues to improve 7nm. Reducing the circuit to 6nm, 5nm, or even 4nm is something that’s possible. However, Samsung’s ultimate goal at this stage is that the circuit is reduced to 3 nm using GAA technology.
RyanLee also predicted the future of Samsung chips:
The development of GAA may make 2nm, even 1nm process possible, although we are not sure what structure it will be. But we firmly believe that such technology will emerge.
I have to admit that RyanLee’s predictions are indeed very bold. But from a practical point of view, chip makers have been worried about the obstacles encountered in chip miniaturization for decades.
Just as people have changed the chip process from 0.13 micron to 130 nanometers, people are now breaking the limit. Perhaps in the near future, chip makers will march into even smaller units.
3nm chipsets costs may make people hesitate!
Samsung has been producing chips for many years. But in 2017, in order to eliminate customers other than Samsung Electronics, the company split its foundry division into separate businesses. Therefore, companies like Qualcomm began to cooperate with Samsung and rely on Samsung to manufacture the Snapdragon 730 and Snapdragon 730G chips.
In the glory days of processor manufacturing, next-generation technology will bring smaller, faster chips without increasing power consumption. Today, these three benefits are difficult to achieve.
However, customers will still hesitate to choose Samsung’s 3nm process because it will be expensive. Just like Samsung’s 5nm chip is slightly more expensive than the current 7nm, 3nm will be more expensive than 5nm when pricing.
However, the relevant people in charge are optimistic about the prospect of 3nm, they also said that the cost is gradually decreasing.
So guys what do you think? Would 3nm chipsets be possible in the next few years? Do let us know in the comments section below!
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