Samsung LSI announces world’s first 10nm FinFET process technology



Bringing 14nm technology early to market is something of a coup for Samsung LSI, which competes mainly in the mobile processor market against the likes of TSMC, yet the South Korean giant isn’t done yet. Samsung LSI’s president, Dr. Kinam Kim has officially unveiled the world’s first 10nm FinFET process technology at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco.

Samsung had previously showcased their 14-nm wafers and a demo chip based on their new process at ARM’s Techcon back in December 2014; the company’s latest Exynos 7 chip (7420) which is slated to power the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S6 was also already in production as early as November 2014. Interestingly enough, Samsung’s 14nm process technology is essentially a hybrid design with 14nm transistors combined with the Back End of Line (BEOL) process carried over from the previous generation 20nm interconnects. This basically means that only the Front End of Line (FEOL) process will be new. – Samsung LSI didn’t opt for a full 14nm approach unlike Intel which will use the 14nm process technology for both the transistors and interconnects.

It is however currently unknown if Samsung LSI plans to use the same type of hybrid design approach for their upcoming 10nm chips. The company will most probably talk about their 10nm process tech at their next developer conference later this year. Until then, we can only speculate about the details of their process technology but it’s fairly reasonable to assume that 10nm chip samples from Samsung’s fab will be out by late 2016/early 2017 if Samsung gets good yields with the initial wafers, 10nm Exynos SoCs will very likely appear in the Galaxy Note 5 or the Galaxy S7.

Samsung appears to have gained a significant edge over its primary mobile competitor, Qualcomm which was faced with myriads of issues with its top-tier mobile SoC — The Snapdragon 810 that is currently being manufactured based on TSMC’s 20nm node, the SoC is plagued by overheating issues which ultimately lead to sub-par performance and unstable CPU/GPU frequencies, in turn forcing Qualcomm to implement aggressive thermal throttling mechanisms to keep things cool. It’s also worth noting that the industry will almost entirely skip the 20nm node due to TSMC’s terrible yields at so it’s a win-win situation for both Samsung and their fabs.

via ZDNet Korea