Samsung will start trial production of its 3-nanometer(nm) foundry process for customers this week at the earliest, TheElec has learned.
The first customer for the process will be the Chinese application-specific IC firm, sources said.
Qualcomm, Samsung’s largest customer, had also made reservations for the process, with the pair agreeing that the US company can ask for the process anytime, sources said.
Samsung’s gate-all-around (GAA) 3nm processes, as its name implies, have the current gates on all four surfaces.
The most advanced process that has been commercialized to date is FinFET, which uses three surfaces, and is sometimes called 3D for this reason.
GAA is more advanced and allows for more precise control of currents while the gate width is even narrower.
Qualcomm had given its 3nm work to TSMC first because Samsung couldn’t meet the yield requirements.
The US company is likely adding Samsung as another potential foundry for 3nm in case TSMC’s 3nm also faces problems.
Samsung has previously said during its first-quarter conference call that it would be the world’s first to manufacture 3nm GAA within the first half of 2022.
But sources said the company’s production volume is yet small and it is more a trial run, not mass production.
Successfully manufacturing chips using 3nm GAA itself can be meaningful, but it remains to be seen whether it can make a mobile application process that uses the process for its smartphones next year.
TSMC’s 3nm process is called N3 by the firm and uses FinFlex technology, a modification of FinFET.
The technology can but in various fins on the die with different frequencies.