Earlier this year, most major mobile chipset manufacturers like Samsung Electronics, MediaTek, and Qualcomm announced plans for commercial implementation of the 10nm process in 2017, and by most accounts, this transition is happening sooner rather than later. As reported by DigiTimes, the 10nm market is bound to heat up by early 2017 as Samsung, Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Spreadtrum Communications are all going to ship their solutions with next year's smartphones.
MediaTek could be the first mobile chip maker with a commercial product as the company is expecting to start volume production of the Helio X30 and the Helio X35 as soon as next month, industry sources say. The Taiwanese fabless semiconductor manufacturer will be closely followed by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 built by Samsung Foundry which is also making the company's 10nm Exynos mobile chips, both of which are slated for mass production and commercialization in the first half of 2017. Last but not least, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is currently in the process of kickstarting production of 10nm mobile chips for HiSilicon which are set to fuel Huawei's top-of-the-line smartphones slated for release next year, DigiTimes reports.
Now, what does this mean for the end user? Without delving into too many technical terms, let's think of a process size as the size of all transistors used to make an integrated circuit, i.e. a chip. By using a smaller process, manufacturers can either reduce the size of these transistors or reduce the distance between transistors. Both of these scenarios result in chips that have a larger number of transistors and consequently boast better performance. Regarding the process of reducing the distance between individual transistors specifically, this method translates to lower power consumption as power requirements for activation of nearby transistors are lowered. In other words, in comparison to 14nm mobile chips, 10nm chipsets will be more powerful, consume less power, and generate less heat. Of course, manufacturers will get to balance between performance and power consumption improvements of the upcoming chips but all in all, this transition is definitely something worth being excited about. The only thing that remains to be seen is which flagship smartphone will be the first to boast this technology in 2017, but we should know more soon come Mobile World Congress 2017 which is scheduled to start on February 27th.