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While some fall off Moore's Jacob's ladder - TSMC and Samsung keep aiming smaller

Accepted submission by RandomFactor at 2019-06-02 16:19:34 from the and then there were two dept.
Hardware

In April, two semiconductor manufacturing titans climbed another rung on the ladder of Moore's Law. [ieee.org]

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) announced [tsmc.com] 5nm manufacturing risk-production
Samsung announced [samsung.com] it's own 5nm manufacturing process ready for samples.

TSMC says its 5-nm process offers a 15 percent speed gain or a 30 percent improvement in power efficiency. Samsung is promising a 10 percent performance improvement or a 20 percent efficiency improvement

Also, "both Samsung and TSMC are offering what they’re calling a 6-nm process" as a kind of stepping stone for customers with earlier availability (H2 2019) vs 5nm production.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not unexpectedly, the playing field has narrowed significantly with the progression to 5nm foundry production

GlobalFoundries gave up at 14 nm and Intel, which is years late with its rollout of an equivalent to competitors’ 7 nm, is thought to be pulling back on its foundry services, according to analysts.

Samsung and TSMC remain because they can afford the investment and expect a reasonable return. Samsung was the largest chipmaker [anysilicon.com] by revenue in 2018, but its foundry business ranks fourth, with TSMC [trendforce.com] in the lead. TSMC’s capital expenditure was $10 billion in 2018. Samsung expects to nearly match that on a per-year basis until 2030.

Can the industry function with only two companies capable of the most advanced manufacturing processes? “It’s not a question of can it work?” says [G. Dan Hutcheson [linkedin.com], at VLSI Research]. “It has to work.”

According to Len Jelinek [ihs.com], a semiconductor-manufacturing analyst at IHS Markit. “As long as we have at least two viable solutions, then the industry will be comfortable”

There may only be two left, but neither company is sitting still.

  - Samsung has already announced [wccftech.com] 3nm fab plans and released design kits.
  - TSMC has gained approval for the construction of a 3nm factory [pcmag.com] next to its 5nm fab.

Previous Coverage
TSMC's "5nm" (CLN5FF) Process On-Track for High-Volume Manufacturing in 2020 [soylentnews.org]
TSMC Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for "5nm" Fab, Production to Begin in 2020 [soylentnews.org]
Samsung Plans to Make "5nm" Chips Starting in 2019-2020 [soylentnews.org]
TSMC Details Scaling/Performance Gains Expected From "5nm CLN5" Process [soylentnews.org]
TSMC Tapes Out Second-Generation "7nm" Chip Using EUV, Will Begin Risk Production of "5nm" in April [soylentnews.org]


Original Submission