The era of 3nm semiconductors is almost here. According to the Korean media, Samsung may announce the mass production of 3nm chips next week. The company will beat out its arch-rival TSMC in the race. The Taiwanese firm plans to begin 3nm mass production in the second half of this year.
Samsung will produce its 3nm chips using the GAAFET (gate-all-around field-effect transistor) architecture. It is an advanced chip fabrication tech and a step up from the FinFET (fin field-effect transistor) architecture that the current generation of nanometer semiconductors employ.
GAAFET is said to reduce the chip size by 45 percent as compared to 5nm FinFET chips. Simultaneously, the advanced tech will allow for a 30 percent performance boost without affecting power consumption. For a comparable performance to 5nm FinFET chips, GAAFET will consume 50 percent less power.
Samsung is hoping these advancements will help it expand its stature in the foundry space and win big manufacturing contracts. That’s because TSMC is sticking to the FinFET architecture for its 3nm chips. The Taiwanese semiconductor giant plans to upgrade to GAAFET with 2nm processors in 2025. Samsung will also jump to the 2nm level in 2025 and will have about three years of experience making GAAFET-based chips by then.
These two companies have long been the top two in the foundry market. But TSMC has a huge lead over Samsung, with their market share for the first quarter of this year coming in at 53.5 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively. It remains to be seen how those figures will change over the next few years as the two giants make 3nm processors using different architectures.
Samsung and TSMC are investing heavily in next-gen semiconductors
As Samsung and TSMC prepare to begin the mass production of 3nm semiconductors, they are also increasing their respective investments in the industry. The former announced a $355 billion investment plan to bolster its semiconductor production in May. That’s on top of an investment of more than $150 billion it announced back in 2019. The company is building new factories and production lines, including one in the US.
US President Joe Biden has been personally urging Samsung to expand semiconductor production stateside. He began his recent tour to South Korea at a Samsung factory some 70 kilometers away from the capital city of Seoul. Samsung reportedly showcased its 3nm chips to Biden during the visit.
TSMC is also constructing a new chip plant in the US, and four more in its homeland Taiwan. The company plans to invest around $120 billion in the semiconductor space over the next few years. It recently revealed the production roadmap for its next-gen mobile processors, starting with 3nm solutions later this year.