Tuesday, February 27

Samsung began mass production of faster chips | Digital Trends Spanish


Samsung says it has started the mass production of faster, more efficient chips based on the 3-nanometer process, becoming the first company in the world to do so and gaining a market lead over key rival TSMC. Samsung is using the new GAA (Gate-All-Around) technology to manufacture the 3nm chips, bringing some notable improvements to the table.

Take, for example, the current crop of mobile processors like the Tensor SoC within the Pixel 6 series, which is based on Samsung’s 5nm process node. Compared to the 5nm process, Samsung says that upgrading from the first-generation 3nm process will deliver a 23% jump in performance while consuming 45% less power. As refinements occur over time and the second-generation 3nm process develops, the performance gain will reach the 30% mark, while power efficiency will increase to 50%.

Samsung is starting the first application of the nanosheet transistor with semiconductor chips for high performance, low power computing application and plans to expand to mobile processors.

— Samsung Semiconductor (@SamsungDSGlobal) June 30, 2022

Samsung is initially targeting 3nm-based chips at “low-power, high-performance computing applications” customers and will eventually expand to mobile processors. However, the company has not said when the first mobile SoC based on the 3nm process will arrive in a smartphone or PC.

Why worry about nanometers?

When it comes to processors, the nanometer figure advertised by chipmakers and consumer electronics brands refers broadly to the size of transistors. These transistors are the fundamental computing units for a processor, just as plant cells act as the individual power-generating factories for plants. Modern processors have billions of transistors packed into a small wafer, which are turned on and off via electrical signals to perform calculations.

The greater the number of transistors that can fit on a chip, the more powerful it will be. But for devices like a phone or a smart watch, interior space is at a premium. To overcome the space limitation, transistors must be miniaturized. As the manufacturing process shrinks down to the nanometer scale, the density of the transistor increases, delivering more power while improving efficiency at the same time.

Simply put, the smaller the nanometer of a chip, the higher the performance and efficiency. It’s a major area of ​​development for key players like TSMC, Intel and Samsung as they all strive to offer more powerful products. Here, Samsung has just taken a noticeable lead.

What’s in the future for Samsung?

Samsung’s chip foundry makes processors for its own devices, like the Exynos 1280 chip found inside the Galaxy A53 5G, as well as offering chip-making services to clients like Google. Until now, Samsung has not revealed the name of the customers who will make use of its 3nm chip manufacturing services.

While Samsung’s achievement is remarkable, the road ahead won’t be easy, especially when it comes to pocketing wealthy customers like Apple and Qualcomm. Not only does Samsung have to undercut TSMC in terms of pricing, it will also have to prove that its 3nm chip manufacturing process is more efficient and can handle volume orders better than TSMC’s own 3nm offering, which is scheduled to enter mass production in the second half of 2022. Beyond that, TSMC currently has plans to make 2nm chips in 2025.

As nodes get smaller and performance needs grow greater, IC designers face challenges in handling tremendous amounts of data to verify complex products with more functions and tighter scaling.

— Samsung Semiconductor (@SamsungDSGlobal) June 30, 2022

Samsung’s own Exynos chips have sometimes failed to match the prowess of competing processors made by TSMC for years, despite matching the nanometer-scale manufacturing process. But Samsung has been making positive strides lately. Last year, the company announced plans to invest $132 billion in its foundry and logic chip business by the end of 2030. In addition, it is leveraging AMD’s expertise in making GPUs for its mobile processors, giving them an extra dash of graphical grunt to handle demanding tasks like gaming. It remains to be seen if 3nm is finally the ground that allows Samsung to catch up with TSMC, or even surpass it.

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