Samsung’s flagship processor move to the 14nm processor die size has already been leaked and discussed, but we now have confirmation that the new Exynos 7 is both being mass produced and has moved to the new, smaller die size compared with their recent 20nm size, as used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung Galaxy Alpha. The new die size process follows a significant amount of investment from Samsung over the years and the intricate manufacturing process includes a 3D transistor structure, called the 3D FinFET. Samsung are planning on applying their new 3D chip construction technology to other types of product such as memory chips, which should also improve performance and reduce power consumption.
Over years, mobile processors have been reducing in die size. My old Dell Streak 5 used a 65nm die size Qualcomm processor, and the HTC Desire S used a 45nm die size processor. In 2012, Samsung used a 32nm die size fabrication process for several Exynos processors and Qualcomm moved to a 28nm processor architecture. We’ve seen a steady reduction in die size and this appears set to continue. There are a several advantages associated with reducing the size of the processor die size including reducing the physical component size, meaning manufacturers can either reduce the size of the device (or the thickness) or it creates room for other components. The second advantage is that it reduces the power consumption of the chip because less voltage is needed to drive the elections. Power consumption is proportional to the square of the voltage applied so a relatively small drop in voltage causes a more meaningful drop in power consumption. Finally, reduced power consumption leads to reduced heat, which is an important consideration in high powered, thin devices.
In this case and compared with their previous generation 20nm processors, Samsung are claiming up to 20% improved performance, 35% reduction in power consumption and a 30% improvement in productivity, although I’m not sure how the final point works! The Samsung announcement didn’t state that the Exynos 7 processor family is to find a home in the up and coming Galaxy S6 family but we are confident that it will be used in devices. We are getting very close to the 1 Match, purported to be the announcement date of the next Galaxy device. We also don’t know if any other manufacturers have picked up the processor yet or even if it is to be made commercially available to competitors, which would truly illustrate how effective Samsung’s manufacturing process is.