Samsung is expected to announce the start of the mass production of 3nm chips next week, reports Yonhap News. This means the company will jump ahead of TSMC, which is expected to begin 3nm chip production in the second half of this year.
Samsung’s 3nm node will bring a 35% decrease in area, 30% higher performance or 50% lower power consumption compared to its 5nm process (which was used for the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100).
This will be achieved by switching to a Gate-All-Around (GAA) design for transistors. This is the next step after FinFET as it allows the foundry to shrink transistors, without hurting their ability to carry current. The GAAFET design used in the 3nm node is the MBCFET flavor shown in the image below.
The evolution of silicon transistors
US President Joe Biden visited Samsung’s plant at Pyeongtaek last month to attend a demostration of Samsung’s 3nm tech. Last year there was talk that the company could invest $10 billion to build a 3nm foundry in Texas. That investment has grown to $17 billion, the plant is expected to begin operation in 2024.
The site of Samsung’s plant in Taylor, Texas
Anyway, the biggest worry with a new node is yield. In October last year Samsung stated that the yield of its 3nm process is “approaching a similar level to the 4nm process”. While the company never showed official numbers, analysts believe that Samsung’s 4nm node was plagued with yield issues.
There is a second generation 3nm node expected in 2023 and the company’s roadmap also includes a MBCFET-based 2nm node in 2025.