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Samsung Roadmap Includes "5nm", "4nm" and "3nm" Manufacturing Nodes

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-05-25 19:22:47

Samsung has replaced planned "6nm" [] and "5nm" nodes with a new "5nm" node on its roadmap, and plans to continue scaling down to "3nm" [], which will use gate-all-around transistors [] instead of Fin Field-effect transistors []. Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) will be required for everything below "7nm" (TSMC and GlobalFoundries will start producing "7nm" chips without EUV initially []):

Last year Samsung said that its 7LPP manufacturing technology will be followed up by 5LPP and 6LPP in 2019 (risk production). The new roadmap does not mention either processes, but introduces the 5LPE (5 nm low power early) that promises to "allow greater area scaling and ultra-low power benefits" when compared to 7LPP. It is unclear when Samsung plans to start using 5LPE for commercial products, but since it is set to replace 7LPP, expect the tech to be ready for risk production in 2019.

[...] Samsung will have two 4 nm process technologies instead of one — 4LPE and 4LPP. Both will be based on proven FinFETs and usage of this transistor structure is expected to allow timely ramp-up to the stable yield level. Meanwhile, the manufacturer claims that their 4 nm nodes will enable higher performance and geometry scaling when compared to the 5LPE, but is not elaborating beyond that (in fact, even the key differences between the three technologies are unclear). Furthermore, Samsung claims that 4LPE/4LPP will enable easy migration from 5LPE, but is not providing any details.

[...] The most advanced process technologies that Samsung announced this week are the 3GAAE/GAAP (3nm gate-all-around early/plus). Both will rely on Samsung's own GAAFET implementation that the company calls MBCFET (multi-bridge-channel FETs), but again, Samsung is not elaborating on any details. The only thing that it does say is that the MBCFET has been in development since 2002, so it will have taken the tech at least twenty years to get from an early concept to production.

MBCFETs are intended to enable Samsung to continue increasing transistor density while reducing power consumption and increasing the performance of its SoCs. Since the 3GAAE/GAAP technologies are three or four generations away, it is hard to make predictions about their actual benefits. What is safe to say is that the 3GAAE will be Samsung's fifth-generation EUV process technology and therefore will extensively use appropriate tools. Therefore, the success of the EUV in general will have a clear impact on Samsung's technologies several years down the road.

Previously: Samsung Plans a "4nm" Process []

Related: IBM Demonstrates 5nm Chip With Horizontal Gate-All-Around Transistors []
"3nm" Test Chip Taped Out by Imec and Cadence []
TSMC Details Scaling/Performance Gains Expected From "5nm CLN5" Process []

Original Submission