Samsung has unveiled its next-generation 10nm FinFET manufacturing plans, a month after releasing its first smartphones that are using 14nm FinFET based Exynos 7420 processor. The South Korean electronics giant didn't offer any specifications regarding the new process, but it said that the processing node will be fully functional by the end of 2016.
According to Hung Hao, the senior vice president of foundry business at Samsung, the new 10nm FinFET process offers “significant power, area and performance advantages.” Samsung is planning to beat industry leader TSMC, which is also planning to have its own 10nm manufacturing by the end of next year. Even Intel is developing its own 10nm manufacturing process, and is believed to be ahead of the competition, but has stayed mum on its plans. “The last couple of years have been transformative for the foundry business. We have brought competition back into the foundry industry. 14nm node is going to be a game changer for us,” Hao added.
Samsung currently has four manufacturing facilities – two in South Korea, one in Austin Texas, and one Global Foundries Fab in the New York State – that are currently manufacturing chips based on its 14nm FinFET process. Samsung is expected to take large 14nm orders from other companies later this year. As it beat TSMC in bringing 14nm process based chips, Apple and Qualcomm are believed to turn to Samsung's foundries for production of their next-generation application processing chips. If that happens, there is a good change that it might happen with the 10nm process as well, as long as Samsung has capacity to satisfy large orders.
“This is one of the biggest positive steps for the industry in the last few years. It shows that Samsung sets these very aggressive goals, and they may not hit them exactly but they will be very close. If they can achieve 10nm, that will be hugely disruptive,” said International Business Strategies CEO Handel Jones.
Samsung has already bagged orders from Apple to produce an SoC that is expected to be used in the upcoming iPhone. “The only customer that will really drive [high wafer volumes] is Apple. If you miss the big ones then you basically have a big problem,” Jones added. Even Qualcomm is expected to follow Apple in choosing Samsung's foundries for its upcoming Snapdragon processors.