A few days ago, Samsung Electronics officially announced that it will put 11nm FinFET process technology (11nm LPP, Low Power Plus) on the research and development agenda, and is expected to launch the first chip using this process next year.
The 11nm LPP process is evolved from the previous Samsung 14nm LPP. Compared with the latter, the performance of the former will be improved by 15%, and the chip area will be reduced by 10% under the same power consumption.
Since Samsung currently mainly promotes its own 10nm FinFET process in the field of flagship mobile phones, it expects that the 11nm process will become the main force of mid-to-high-end smartphones. The new process will be mass-produced in the first half of next year. The 11nm LPP process is mainly used in mid-to-high-end mobile phone products, forming market differentiation. If there is no accident, the corresponding products will be launched in the first half of next year. However, due to the Samsung processor itself
The reason is that it may be used on their own mobile phones first. If Qualcomm and other companies use this process, it will be applied to more Android phones.
At the same time, Samsung also confirmed that the 7nm LPP process including EUV (extreme ultra violet, far ultraviolet region) lithography technology has been put on the agenda, and the goal is to start initial trial production in the second half of next year.
The industry generally believes that the 7nm process is an important node and a key turning point for the introduction of EUV technology in the semiconductor manufacturing process, which is the key to the extension of Moore’s Law to below 5nm; the introduction of the EUV process can greatly improve performance, reduce exposure steps, number of masks, etc. process, saving time and costs.
However, it is obviously not easy to introduce EUV technology. It needs to invest a lot of money to purchase expensive EUV equipment, and at the same time, it needs to carry out a lot of process verification to ensure a better yield in the production process, so that it can be applied to the production of chips at an economical cost.
Samsung has precisely this advantage. Because of its multiple industries, it can provide financial support for its advanced semiconductor manufacturing process, and it has been willing to pay huge sums of money for this over the years; Samsung is also the world’s largest memory chip manufacturer. For example, in the past three years, it has used EUV technology to process 200,000 wafers to produce SRAM.
According to Samsung’s progress, we can preliminarily judge that it is unlikely that the Snapdragon 845, which is expected to be launched at the end of this year, will use the 7nm process, and it is more likely that the 10nm process will still be used. It is expected that chips such as Exynos 9810, Kirin 980, and Helio X40 will continue this process next year. But we could see smartphones with 7nm chips as early as early 2019.
Samsung became the first manufacturer to announce the 7nm process, but the 7nm LPP process is not expected to be mass-produced until the second half of next year, using EUV extreme ultraviolet lithography technology. Further parameters and details of the two processes are expected to be announced at the Semiconductor Conference in Tokyo on September 15.
As for Samsung’s biggest competitor, TSMC, it was revealed in March this year that it was cooperating with MediaTek to produce 12-core chips on a 7nm process. .
As the world’s largest semiconductor foundry company, TSMC also has its advantages. Because it has always been in a leading position and has obtained huge profits, it has provided financial support for its continuous research and development of advanced processes. In the past two years, under the pressure of Samsung, it is constantly Increase R&D investment.
However, because it has adopted a more cautious attitude, it is slightly conservative in the development of advanced processes. When developing the 16nm process, it first mass-produced the 14nm process in 2014 and then introduced the FinFET process in 2015, while Samsung directly in 2015. For the first time, the annual mass production of 14nm FinFET has taken the lead over TSMC in advanced technology.
The competition in the 7nm process may lead to changes in the orders of Qualcomm and Apple, the world’s two largest chip companies. Industry sources say that Qualcomm is likely to hand over its high-end chip Snapdragon 845 to TSMC next year, while Samsung may win Apple’s A12 processor order.