Samsung has begun mass producing 6nm and 7nm EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) chips at its new "cutting-edge semiconductor fabrication line" in Hwaseong, South Korea.
The facility, which is named V1, is Samsung's first dedicated semiconductor production line for manufacturing chips using the EUV process. The company says its first products will be delivered to customers in the first quarter of 2020.
The V1 line opened in February 2018. It started testing wafers production in the second half of 2019. This state-of-the-art facility currently produces 7nm and 6nm EUV chips. It can produce circuitry up to the 3nm process node.
Samsung has already completed the product design for 5nm chips and started the process development for 4nm chips. The 3nm process node is currently in a design and testing phase.
In accordance with Samsung's plan, the cumulative total investment in the V1 line will reach $6 billion by the end of this year. The company also hopes to triple the production capacity from that of 2019.
With the V1 line in operation, Samsung now has six operational foundry production lines globally. It has one (S2 line) in Austin, USA, two (6 and S1 lines) in Giheung, Korea, and three (V1, S3, and S4 lines) in Hwaseong, Korea. The company's S1, S3, and V1 facilities are capable of producing sub-10nm chips.
Samsung starts mass production of 6nm and 7nm EUV chips
Samsung's foundry business has been going through difficult times lately. Over the last few years, the company lost two of its biggest customers, Qualcomm and Apple. Both of them have migrated to Samsung's rival TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company).
While Apple still remains with TSMC, Qualcomm returned to Samsung for the mid-range Snapdragon 765 chipset last year. Samsung also recently bagged a contract to supply some part of Qualcomm's X60 5G modem using 5nm technology. The new modem will make its way into phones next year.
Now with it starting mass producing 6nm and 7nm EUV chips, it remains to be seen if the company will be manufacturing more chips for Qualcomm this year, or in the coming years.
Samsung says the EUV lithography process provides an optimal choice for next-generation applications such as 5G, AI, and automotive.
The company expects the new V1 line to play a "pivotal role" in responding to the "fast-growing global market demand for single-digit node foundry technologies."
"As we ramp up production, the V1 line will enhance our ability to respond to market demand and expand opportunities to support our customers," said Dr. ES Jung, President and Head of Foundry Business, Samsung.