Samsung Electronics has officially declared that it will start producing 3-nm semiconductors in the first half of 2022 prior to Taiwan’s TSMC.
TSMC will hold a conference call on Oct. 14 to announce its performance in the third quarter. The world’s No. 1 foundry company is highly likely to respond to Samsung Electronics’ first salvo.
On Oct. 7, Samsung Electronics announced that it will start producing its customers’ 3-nanometer (nm) chip designs using gate-all-around (GAA) technology in the first half of next year. It added that it will mass-produce second-generation 3-nm chips in 2023 and 2-nm chips in 2025.
Samsung Electronics will use GAA technology to 3-nm chip production to improve the performance and efficiency of transistors that act as semiconductor current control switches. The new transistor structure is essential to continuing process migration as it improves power efficiency, performance and design flexibility.
Samsung’s first 3-nm GAA process node can boost performance by 30 percent, cut power consumption by 50 percent, and reduce chip areas by 35 percent compared to the fin field-effect transistor (FinFET)-based 5-nm process. The company plans to apply the third-generation GAA technology to the 2-nm process that will be introduced in 2025.
TSMC plans to continue to apply FinFET technology to the 3-nm process and introduce GAA technology starting from the 2-nm process.
If things go according to Samsung Electronics’ plan, it will be the first foundry in the world to mass-produce 3-nm semiconductors. Initially, TSMC planned to apply a 3-nm process to mass production of Intel’s CPUs and GPUs in July 2022.
The reason why Samsung Electronics made the surprising decision is that its market share gap with TSMC has widened. TSMC accounted for 58 percent of the global foundry market in the second quarter of 2021. Samsung’s share was 14 percent. In the first quarter, TSMC had a 55 percent share against Samsung’s 17 percent, according to market research firm Counterpoint Research.
Currently, Samsung Electronics and TSMC are both producing 5-nm chips based on FinFet technology. However, TSMC has the upper hand in yield and performance, experts say.