SoC manufacturers have a never-ending race to make their microprocessors as tiny as possible. While chip designers and manufacturers like Apple, Qualcomm, and TSMC have aced the 4nm, 5nm & 6nm processors for some time now, Samsung has just made the world’s first 3-nanometer chips.
In doing so, Samsung is now on pace to release the most advanced chips worldwide. According to Samsung, the new fabrication process is 45% more power efficient and delivers 23% better performance than the previous 5nm process.
All central SoC and chip manufacturers are vying to make their microprocessors as small as possible. Smaller microprocessors usually mean that the production of an SoC can be more efficient and perform much better. This also means that a higher number of chips can be made from the same silicon wafer, thus remedying the current chip shortage. For these reasons alone, Samsung’s breakthrough is noteworthy. However, that is not all.
Samsung has achieved this feat using a process called Gate-All-Around transistor architecture (GAA FET), an update on FinFET, on a surface with a 16% smaller surface area than before.
Samsung said the process would be used for “high performance, low power computing” with mobile processors coming later and that a second-generation 3nm process will reduce power consumption by 50% and improve performance by 30% on a 35% reduced area.
Being the first to break into the 3nm market shows that Samsung is a significant player in the chip manufacturing business. However, the South Korean giant still needs to prove itself against TSMC. The Taiwanese chipmaker dominates the microprocessor market and manufactures chips for Apple’s iPhones, iPods, MacBooks, and Macs. They also supply silicon wafers to companies like Nvidia and AMD. As per a Bloomberg report, TSMC currently accounts for more than half of the global foundry business by revenue.
Samsung and TSMC are currently competing for multi-year deals with Apple and Qualcomm, two mega tech firms awaiting mass production of 3nm chips that could improve the performance of existing products while enabling new technologies. Samsung will manufacture these chips in South Korea at its Hwaseong facilities before expanding to Pyeongtaek. The company is currently building a plant in Texas where it could spend more than $10 billion to produce 3nm chips.