The chip-making industry is rapidly shrinking – not in volume but in area.
It is all about the nanometre (nm) thickness and the number of processes that can be jammed into it.
Last May, Samsung introduced 7nm LPP EUV (Extreme ultraviolet), it’s first semiconductor process technology to use an EUV lithography solution. It is anticipated that EUV lithography deployment will break the barriers of Moore’s law scaling, paving the way for single nanometre semiconductor technology generations.
For example, Samsung uses a 10nm Exynos chip in its Samsung S9. The next generation will be a 7nm chip with up to a 40% increase in area efficiency, 10% higher performance or up to 35% lower power consumption.
A smaller chip also gives OEMs more usable space inside upcoming products to support larger batteries or slimmer designs.
Samsung Foundries also makes systems-on-a-chip (S-o-C) for Qualcomm, and its next-generation chips will use 7nm dies including the Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G mobile chipset.
Rival foundries are still grappling with reducing older 22-14nm chips, and Samsung has left them in the dust planning a 5 and 6nm chip in 2019!
“By next year, we plan to become a runner-up way ahead of rivals regarding revenue,” said Sanghyun Lee, vice president of marketing for Samsung Foundry.
“Mobile accounts for a big portion of the foundry business right now. But new logic semiconductors for automotive, IoT, network, data centres and new businesses will continue to grow. We will see more demand from these businesses in the future,” Lee said.
Samsung also plans to offer solutions that combine logic chips with memory, such as embedded MRAM, going forward.
It and Intel are the only remaining integrated semiconductor device makers that can both design and fabricate chips.
Samsung no longer makes S-o-C for Apple that now uses TSMC. Samsung will have a significant advantage over other foundries in yield rate, supply chain control and price.