Five years ago, Samsung had announced that it could start making 5nm chips without a lot of difficulties. Last year, it started working on the development of 5nm process nodes, and earlier this year, the company started investing in 5nm production lines. However, it was reported earlier this month that COVID-19 has caused a serious setback to Samsung's plan of mass producing 5nm chips.
Samsung announced its financial results for Q1 2020 earlier today, and a part of the announcement mentioned the company's plans to start the mass production of 5nm chips in Q2 2020 using its EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) process. This is a pleasant surprise since industry experts were expecting that the South Korean semiconductor giant would not be able to start the mass production of 5nm chips until the fourth quarter of this year.
It is being reported that Samsung could start producing 5nm-based Ampere chips for Nvidia. The GPU brand is expected to launch its next-generation GPUs later this year. However, a lot also depends on the COVID-19 situation, and there could be further delays. Samsung also announced in its press release that it would start focusing on the development of the GAAFET-based 3nm process node this year.
The next-generation Exynos SoC (System on Chip) for Samsung's flagship smartphone might most probably use the 5nm EUV fabrication process. Even Apple's and Qualcomm's next-generation processors are expected to be based on TSMC's 5nm technology.
Samsung competes with Taiwanese firm TSMC in the semiconductor market, and the former is currently at the backfoot. TSMC has already started mass producing 5nm Apple A14 SoCs for the iPhone 12 series. The South Korean firm wants to defeat TSMC as it can then bag chip orders from the likes of Apple and Qualcomm, who are currently contracting chip production to TSMC.