Samsung will showcase the world’s first 3nm semiconductor chips next week. The company has reportedly scheduled a launch ceremony for Monday, July 25. The firm began mass production of the advanced semiconductors on June 30.
Samsung’s 3nm chips are based on the Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistor architecture. It’s a new chip architecture that brings performance and power improvements over the FinFET (Fin field-effect transistor) architecture that current solutions employ. It also allows for a smaller footprint of the processors.
The Korean firm is supplying the initial production run of its 3nm solutions to a Chinese firm that makes processors for cryptocurrency mining. However, the company isn’t counting on it as a long-term client because of the nature of the industry it is associated with. Samsung would be looking to get onboard some trustworthy clients, such as smartphone makers.
However, it is reportedly struggling with the yield rate of its 3nm chips. Most of the advanced chips the company manufactures don’t meet the required quality. This prevents it from producing a large volume of chips in a short time, something smartphone makers usually demand. The Korean behemoth is now working on improving the yield rate (80 to 90 percent is said to be ideal) while simultaneously improving its chip tech. The company plans to begin the production of second-gen 3nm solutions early next year. Those may be for smartphones.
TSMC, which has historically led Samsung in the contract manufacturing space, is also preparing to begin 3nm mass production later this year. But the company is sticking to the FinFET architecture for one more generation. It plans to move to GAAFET with 2nm chips in 2025.
However, the Taiwanese company’s chip tech has been historically superior to Samsung’s. Its solutions usually deliver better overall performance and are more power-efficient than competing solutions from the Korean firm. TSMC’s chips are also better in thermal management. So Samsung has its task cut out as it looks to close the gap with its arch-rival.
Samsung has yet to give its best to 3nm chips
Samsung is manufacturing the first batch of its 3nm chips at its Hwaseong factory in South Korea. However, as the company scales up the production, it will likely get other factories on the job too. Perhaps the firm has yet to use its finest chip manufacturing equipment for 3nm solutions. The company’s Pyeongtaek factory houses its best chip equipment, while the Hwaseong campus is mostly used for the development of manufacturing technologies (via).
It’s quite likely that 3nm production will begin in the Pyeongtaek factory once Samsung improves the yield rate. Perhaps the company will manufacture the second-gen solutions here. Time will tell whether the Korean firm can finally challenge TSMC in chip tech.