Samsung outlined its foundry business roadmap for the next five years at its Foundry Forum event last week. The company plans to introduce its next generation fabrication technologies in a timely manner and intends to make chips on its 1.4 nm (14 angstroms) manufacturing process by 2027. Also, the company will keep investing in new manufacturing capacity going forward as it strives to strengthen its position in the foundry market.

New Nodes Incoming

Samsung has been introducing new production nodes and/or variants on production nodes every 12 – 18 months for several years now, and plans to keep its rather aggressive pace going forward. Though the company’s roadmap illustrates, fanfare aside, that it is now taking longer to develop new fabrication processes. The company’s second-generation 3 nm-class gate-all-around (3GAP) technology is now set to arrive sometime in 2024. Meanwhile, Samsung Foundry intends to be ready with its 2 nm (20 angstroms) node in 2025, and with its 1.4 nm-branded fabrication process in 2027.

"With the company's success of bringing the latest [3 nm-class] process technology to mass production, Samsung will be further enhancing gate-all-around (GAA) based technology and plans to introduce the 2 nm process in 2025 and 1.4 nm process in 2027," a statement by Samsung reads.

  Chip Fab Roadmaps
Data announced during conference calls, events, press briefings and press releases
HVM Start 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027
Intel Process Intel 3 Intel 20A Intel 18A ? ?
  FET FinFET RibbonFET + PowerVia ? ?
  EUV 0.33 NA EUV 0.55 High-NA EUV
Samsung Process 3GAE 3GAP 2.0 nm 1.4 nm
  FET GAAFET ? ? ?
  EUV 0.33 NA EUV ? ? ?
TSMC Process N3E/N3P N3S/N3X N2 N2?  
  FET FinFET GAAFET GAAFET with backside power delivery (?)
  EUV 0.33 NA EUV ? ? ?

Painting some very broad strokes, compared to those of Intel and TSMC, it seems like TSMC is a little bit more conservative (which is something expected when you are the world's largest contrast maker of microelectronics). Whereas Intel is more aggressive (which is again expected given the company's position in the market of semiconductors). Meanwhile, naming of fabrication processes these days is essentially aspiratory, with little connection to their real physical measures. Which is why comparing different semiconductor companies' roadmaps is an imprecise metric at best.

In addition to new 'general' nodes, Samsung plans to expand its process technology optimization programs for each specific application as well as customized services for customers, the company said.

Meanwhile, one of the things that Samsung notably did not mention in its press release concerning its 1.4 nm node is usage of High-NA equipment. Intel, for its part, plans to use High-NA starting its Intel 18A node (in 2024), where it will eventually be supplanting the EUV multi-patterning used on initial 18A production. 

According to Samsung, the adoption of new process technologies and demand for new fabrication processes will be driven by already known mega trends — AI, autonomous vehicles, automotive applications in general, HPC, 5G, and eventual 6G connectivity. Keeping in mind that Samsung is a large industrial conglomorate with many divisions, many of applications that it intends to address with future process nodes are its own.

The company disclosed last week that its LSI Business (chip development division) currently offers around 900 products, which include SoCs, image sensors, modems, display driver IC (DDI), power management IC (PMIC), and security solutions. Going forward the company plans to put even more efforts into development of performance-demanding IP, including CPU and GPU, by working closer with its industry partners (which presumably includes Arm and AMD).

Expanded Production Capacity

Offering state-of-the-art production technologies is good, but to produce those advanced chips in sufficient quantities to meet market demands is equally important. To that end, Samsung announced that the company will also continue to invest heavily into building out additional production capacity. In the recent years Samsung's semiconductor capacity CapEx was around $30 billion a year and it does not look like the firm plans to put a cap on its spendings (though it is noteworthy that it does not disclose how much money it intends to spend).

Samsung plans to expand its production capacity for its 'advanced' process technologies by more than three-fold by 2027. While the companies is not naming the nodes it considers "advanced", we would expect a significant addition of its EUV capacity in the next five years – especially as more ASML EUV machines become available. Meanwhile, the company will adopt 'Shell-First' tactics in its expansion and construct buildings and clean rooms first, and add equipment later on depending on market conditions.

Samsung's new fab under construction near Taylor, Texas, will be one of the company's main vehicles to add capacity in the coming years. The shell-first site will start to produce chips in 2024. And as the company adds new tools to the fab and build new phases, production capacity of the site will further increase. 

Source: Samsung

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  • SydneyBlue120d - Monday, October 10, 2022 - link

    Is there someone using the Samsung 3nm process at the moment?
    Can you name it?
  • meacupla - Monday, October 10, 2022 - link

    apparently, the first batch of Samsung 3nm went to crypto miners. It's presumed that Samsung is producing 3nm chips for their own smartphones by now...
  • SydneyBlue120d - Tuesday, October 11, 2022 - link

    Is there any solid reference about this?

    Thanks for the reply.
  • meacupla - Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - link

    no solid references. just some articles I saw from reputable tech news sites.
  • The Von Matrices - Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - link

    Manufacturing crypto mining chips in a first run of a new process makes a lot of sense. Those chips have small dies and each die has a lot duplicated logic so whatever defects arise require disabling only a the tiny part each chip. Even on a process with lots of defects there is almost no wasted silicon, and the crypto miners will still pay a premium to get chips made on the most power efficient node.
  • trivik12 - Saturday, November 5, 2022 - link

    Based on Anthony from twitter who has been reliable about Samsung, Exynos2300 will be made on 5nm !!!! I think 1st gen 3GAE is bust just like TSMC N3 which everyone but Apple have bailed out and Apple itself is not using as much as initially thought. May be just A17 for now.
  • ballsystemlord - Monday, October 10, 2022 - link

    Samsung has had bad yields on it's 5nm node. Is their 3nm process also producing poor yields, or have they fixed the problems?
  • Otritus - Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - link

    All Samsung yields below 8nm are dogshit, and 8nm is kinda meh. Only 14nm and larger are decent to good.
  • Blastdoor - Monday, October 10, 2022 - link

    As the article notes, it's impossible to compare these things based on the marketing names.

    I'm sure this will never happen because obscurity benefits these companies, but it would be nice if we could get a more consistent comparison in terms of something that has real-world relevance. For example, what would be the die size, clock speed, and power consumption if a standard ARM reference design were fabbed on each of these processes?

    I know.... it will never happen.
  • Jp7188 - Sunday, October 16, 2022 - link

    Tranistors per square millimeter is the best metric i have seen.

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