Samsung aims to wow with aggressive chips plan

Samsung aims to be 5G market leader with new 8nm RF tech and unveils plan for compact 2nm and 3nm chips.

Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

October 7, 2021

2 Min Read
Samsung aims to wow with aggressive chips plan

Samsung Electronics has created something of a buzz in the semiconductor world with the unveiling of what is regarded as an aggressive roadmap toward more advanced chip manufacturing processes.

Although much of the focus was placed on the South Korean chipmaker's plans to deploy a new transistor structure called "gate all around" (GAA) in its upcoming 3 nanometer (3nm) lithography process, Samsung also set out its ambition to become market leader in the 5G semiconductor market, targeting sub-6GHz to mmWave applications.

Samsung introduced the newest RF technology based on the 8-nanometer (8nm) process in June, noting that the foundry technology is expected to provide a "one chip solution" for 5G with support for multi-channel and multi-antenna chip designs.

As explained at the time by Hyung Jin Lee, master of foundry technology development team at Samsung Electronics, "as 5G mmWave expands, Samsung's 8nm RF will be a great solution for customers looking for long battery life and excellent signal quality on compact mobile devices."

Samsung also provides 28nm- and 14nm-based RF. It boasted that it has shipped more than 500 million mobile RF chips for premium smartphones since 2017.

Compact chips

Meanwhile, Samsung said it will start adopting the GAA design in fabricating compact 3nm chips in the first half of 2022, according to Choi Si-young, president of Samsung's foundry business, during the annual Samsung Foundry Forum. The second generation of 3nm is expected in 2023. The chipmaker then aims to mass produce 2nm chips built on the GAA by 2025.

Samsung said the 3nm chips promise a 30% performance increase, a 50% power consumption reduction, and a 35% decline in area compared to 5nm chips.

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.

Samsung also introduced the upgraded fin field-effect transistor (FinFET)-based 17nm process with the aim of delivering more cost-efficient, applicable products. Samsung said its latest 17nm process can reduce the chip area by 43%, improve energy efficiency by 49%, and increase performance by 39% compared to the 28nm process.

Samsung has been the biggest investor in chip manufacturing for the past decade, taking over from Intel, the leader going back to the early 1990s. In May, it started work on building a sixth domestic chip-production line in Pyeongtaek, expected to be fully operational by the second half of next year.

However, rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) is set to spend a record $100 billion over the next three years to expand capacity to meet the huge surge in global demand.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Anne Morris

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Anne Morris is a freelance journalist, editor and translator. She has been working in the telecommunications sector since 1996, when she joined the London-based team of Communications Week International as copy editor. Over the years she held the editor position at Total Telecom Online and Total Tele-com Magazine, eventually leaving to go freelance in 2010. Now living in France, she writes for a number of titles and also provides research work for analyst companies.

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