Samsung Foundry is set to unveil its improved 3nm and 4nm chip manufacturing processes at VLSI Symposium 2023 in June. The event will take place from June 11-16, 2023, in Kyoto, Japan. During the chip industry event, the South Korean chipmaker will detail its second-generation 3nm and fourth-generation 4nm processes.
Both new processes are important for Samsung Foundry as they will help it gain more clients. The company's 4nm process that was used to fabricate the Exynos 2200 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipsets was criticized a lot as it was nowhere as efficient as TSMC's 4nm process that was used to make Apple's A16, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Dimensity 9000, and Nvidia's RTX 4000 series GPUs.
Chips made using Samsung Foundry's SF3 (3nm GAP) and SF4X (4nm EUV) processes to bring improved performance, efficiency
Samsung Foundry's SF3 chip manufacturing process will use 3nm GAP technology. It is an improved version of the SF3E process that was used to make chips in the second half of 2022. The new process relies on Samsung's improved GAA (Gate All Around) transistor, which the company calls MBCFETs (Multi-Bridge-Channel Field-Effect Transistors). This node promises further optimizations, but the company isn't making direct comparisons with its first-generation 3nm process.
Compared to SF4 (4nm EUV LPP), SF3 is said to be 22% faster at the same power or 34% more power efficient at the same clock speeds and transistor count. It is also said to offer 21% smaller in the logic area. For years, one of the primary advantages of the GAA process was said to be varying nanosheet channel widths in the same cell types, and Samsung Foundry says that its SF3 process supports it. It could mean that SF3E (first-generation 3nm process) doesn't fully support it.
Samsung's second-generation 3nm process could be used for Exynos 2500 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 4
Usually, Samsung's first-generation chip manufacturing processes are not used widely, while the later generations are used by various chip firms. Going by Samsung Foundry's track record, its second-generation 3nm chip fabrication technology could be used by at least one major chip client. Some rumors claim that the Exynos 2500 and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 could use the SF3 process.
The South Korean firm's fourth-generation 4nm process, which is designed to be used for high-performance computing applications such as server CPUs and GPUs, offers a 10% performance boost and 23% improved power efficiency compared to SF4 (second-generation 4nm). This new process will compete with TSMC's N4P (second-generation 4nm) and N4X (third-generation 4nm) nodes, which will be available in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
According to AnandTech, Samsung Foundry's SF4X is the first node from the company in recent years that is built with high-performance computing in mind, which could mean that it is expecting a good demand for it from its customers.