Yesterday, we covered how Samsung had successfully demonstrated a System-on-Chip (SoC) built at the 10nm die process. The smaller the die process, the less power that the processor uses as it requires a lower voltage to drive the electrons across the unit. This is important because the power used by the silicon chip is proportional to the square of the voltage applied: a small drop in voltage causes a larger drop in power consumption. This has important ramifications in heat output, too; the lower the power used, the less waste heat has to be dissipated within the device. Secondary advantages include the size of the physical unit is smaller, which means the manufacturer has more space to position components. Also, because there’s less distance for the electrons to travel within the processor, smaller processors are quicker processors, too.
Samsung’s demonstration of the 10nm die process occurred at the ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference), currently taking place in San Francisco. And now Samsung have bullishly stated that, “there are no fundamental difficulties until 5nm,” which indicates that their engineers are already working on shrinking the processor die size further. Samsung’s Kinam Kim also stated that they currently have a roadmap to bring the die size down to a tiny-sounding 3.25nm. This is a significant reduction in size compared with the current normal die size of 28nm for many Android devices, although Samsung and Intel are using 20nm and 22nm die sizes respectively. The new Samsung Galaxy S6, to be announced on Sunday, is believed to be based around a processor built on a 14nm die size.
To bring things back to the wider picture, Samsung Mobile have been under pressure for the last eighteen months and there is much riding on the Galaxy S6 to be a commercial success. However, clearly Samsung’s mobile chipset development teams have not been idle and these developments underpin the strides taken. The smaller processors will act as an “enabler” for many of the exciting up-and-coming technologies we’re expect to be unleashed over the coming few years, including many interconnected wearable devices such as smart glasses, watches and jewelry, together with smart automated systems and services around the home, office and transport. Perhaps Samsung’s advanced small-die processors will be at the heart of the Internet of Things revolution?