If we look at the horizon we can see the nodes called 5 nm that both Intel and TSMC are already manufacturing or are about to manufacture their products, but if we look further into the future, it is at this moment where they are making agreements for the nodes of 3 nm which will be where we will see for the first time the use of GAAFET or Gate All Around transistors. Both Samsung, Intel and TSMC are looking for potential clients for their future nodes and the South Korean foundry is apparently having problems with its 3nm lithographic process. What is happening?
Samsung’s problems to be on time: adverse effects at 3 nm
Samsung’s 3 nm node received the name 3GAE in 2019 and it was announced in that same year that Samsung will make use of MBCFET transistors, which are based on a variation of FinFET transistors where, according to the South Korean foundry, it results in an improvement. performance of 35% yield or 50% reduction in consumption and a 45% cut in density with respect to its own node of 7 nm.
Samsung promised at the event that the first designs they would be ready by 2020 with risk production starting at the end of 2020 and in large quantities by this year. Reality? Until now Samsung has failed to finish its 3GAE processTherefore, production at risk has not started, much less and obviously, mass production has not started either. What’s more Samsung has had to cut back on its performance promises of its 3nm node made in 2019 as the performance increase has dropped from 35% to 10%, the reduction of consumption of 50% to twenty% and 45% Density Trim at 25%.
The 3GAE node will be late, will it remain competitive?
But what about the release date? This is where we have to talk about recent statements from Samsung Vice President of Engineering, Dr. Chidi Chidambaram, who is at the forefront of the development of new manufacturing processes at Samsung foundries. Well, at an event organized by Appled Materials, Dr. Chidambaram dropped the following:
You already know that we are talking about (start producing) in 2023 or 2024. The earliest in 2023, but 2024 is also reasonable.
So Samsung’s 3nm node would not be ready until 2023 (surely the end), which means in terms of the market that until the second half of that same year or already in 2024 we will not see the first processors under said node, even things can go to 2025. Too late a date compared to the cruising speed that its maximum rivals have taken today, which are TSMC and Intel, which will have their equivalent nodes ready much sooner.
Currently Samsung is the largest memory manufacturer in the world, and these do not usually use the advanced nodes that processors use for their manufacture. In any case it is significant that after having obtained NVIDIA for its 8 nm node they have lost it in the face of future nodes of the company. And it is that losing the largest manufacturer of graphics cards in the industry and one of the heavyweights should be enough to turn on all the alarms at Samsung.