Samsung announced Wednesday that it has taken a significant step toward rolling out a next-generation manufacturing technology that has the potential to reshuffle the chip industry.
Samsung said that it had begun initial production of its three-nanometer manufacturing process, which includes the introduction of a new transistor architecture called gate-all-around, or GAA. The new gate architecture reduces power consumption, while at the same time boosting performance — characteristics that set chips made with it apart from others.
With any new chip manufacturing technology, just printing a few wafers doesn't count as a win. To be successful, Samsung will have to scale the 3-nanometer process to high-volume production, which means hundreds of thousands or millions of chips.
Samsung didn’t announce any customers for the new manufacturing method, which will be geared toward mobile and high-performance computing chips such as the ones found in Samsung's mobile phones. That's notable because there have been multiple reports that Samsung has lost big customers such as Qualcomm because its fabs can’t produce working chips at the cadence required by high-volume customers.
Intel has said it plans to introduce the new gate design at high volume in 2024, and it was the first to optimize the transition to the current generation about decade ago. TSMC expects chips using the new gates to begin production in 2025, suggesting that executives predict that its adoption of another important manufacturing technology called extreme ultraviolet lithography, and other techniques, will be sufficient to boost performance until then.