Samsung To Take Back Mobile Chip Throne With 5nm Tech

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Samsung has announced that its 5nm (nanometer) FinFET process technology is complete in its development, and is ready for customers' samples. The company says that it added "another cutting-edge node" to its "extreme ultraviolet (EUV)-based process offerings".

So, what does all that mean? Well, the company 5nm FinFET process provides up to a 25-percent increase in "logic area efficiency" compared to a 7nm process. On top of that, it also provides 20-percent lower power consumption and 10-percent higher performance.

The company claims that customers can fully leverage its "highly sophisticated EUV technology" this time around, in addition to power performance area (PPA) improvements. Just like the 7nm technology, 5nm one uses EUV lithography in metal layer patterning and reduces mask layers while providing better fidelity, says Samsung.

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Samsung claims that another benefit of this technology is that it allows the company to reuse all the 7nm intellectual property (IP), which will make transitioning to 5nm a breeze for OEMs. Just as a reminder, Samsung provided commercial samples of the industry's first EUV-based products and started mass production of 7nm chips early this year, and the company is collaborating with customers on 6nm, a customized EUV-based process node.

Mass production of the company's 5nm chips is expected to kick off in the second quarter of 2020, according to Shawn Han, a Senior Vice President of Samsung's foundry business, so we're still some time away from actually using the company's 5nm chips.

Mobile processors have been evolving at an incredible pace over the next couple of years, and these new 5nm chips will present yet another rather large step forward. 20-percent lower power consumption is always welcomed and it will definitely help OEMs either provide considerably better battery life, or keep it at the same level by including smaller batteries into devices, either way, it's a welcomed addition. The same can be said for performance improvements as well, 10-percent is not a lot, but it's definitely welcomed as well.

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Samsung's current flagship processor is the Exynos 9820, a chip which is made using an 8nm LPP (Low Power Plus) FinFET process. The Snapdragon 855, for comparison's sake, is manufactured using TSMC's 7nm process. The Exynos 9820 comes with four Cortex-A55 cores, two Cortex-A75 cores, and two custom CPU cores. The chip is also equipped with the Mali-G76 MP12 GPU, and it comes with advanced image signal processor (ISP) which supports up to five sensors.

The company's upcoming flagship processor, that is expected to arrive in Q4 this year will probably be made using a 6 or 7nm process, as 5nm processors will not enter mass production until the second quarter of 2020, according to Samsung. On the other hand, Samsung may alter its release cycle because of its 5nm technology, though that would not only alter the announcement of its upcoming flagship processor, but also the release of its next-gen Galaxy S smartphones in 2020… we'll see what will happen, as we still do not know when exactly in Q2 2020 will the company's 5nm chips go into mass production. If they enter mass production in April, then it's possible Samsung may adapt the launch of the Galaxy S11 series (or whatever it ends up being called), otherwise, it's not as likely.