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Samsung grabs Qualcomm's fab tech with 14nm FinFET process

Posted: 18 Jan 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung Electronics? FinFET? TSMC? Qualcomm? Internet of Things?

Samsung Electronics, which has been neck and neck with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to win foundry orders with the world's most advanced fabrication technology, may have snagged all of Qualcomm's business with a second-generation version of its 14nm FinFET process.

The Korean company has commercially launched its advanced logic using its 14nm Low-Power Plus (LPP) process, the latest generation of the 14nm process technology, the company noted.

Qualcomm, which accounted for about 20 per cent of TSMC's orders two years ago, has moved most of its business to Samsung at 10/14nm for 2017 and beyond, according to Warren Lau, an analyst with Maybank Kim Eng in Hong Kong.

"Samsung is the sole supplier for all Qualcomm future 14nm chipsets and modems," Lau said. "This is also the case at 10nm."

Samsung said Qualcomm is making its Snapdragon 820 processor on Samsung's new 14nm LPP process, and the first products will be in mobile devices in 1H16.

Samsung said it was the industry leader with the first FinFET process, announced during 1Q15, when it launched the Exynos 7 Octa processor built on the company's 14nm Low-Power Early (LPE) process. Samsung said it will use the 14nm LPP process to make its Exynos 8 Octa processor.


The Samsung announcement coincides with a prediction from TSMC on January 14 that TSMC's share of the 16nm/14nm market will increase to 70 per cent in 2016 from 50 per cent in 2015. TSMC forecast demand for its 16nm products to increase, accounting for about 20 per cent of the company's revenue in 2016, according to company Co-CEO C.C. Wei.

Apple has become TSMC's largest 16nm FinFET customer, using the process technology to make the Apple A10 processor in 2016 and possibly the A11 in 2017, according to Lau. Taiwan's MediaTek said it also plans to use TSMC's 16nm FinFET process.

Samsung and TSMC are developing lower cost versions of their FinFET processes to stay competitive.

In 4Q15, TSMC completed the development of 16nm FinFET Compact (16nm FFC), a low-power, low-cost version of its 16nm FinFET products that were introduced in the middle of 2015. The company expects 16nm FFC to start production during the current quarter.

"Samsung will continue to offer derivative processes of its advanced 14nm FinFET technology to maintain our technology leadership," said Charlie Bae, Samsung's EVP of sales & marketing, System LSI Business.

Samsung said its 14nm LPP process delivers up to 15 per cent higher speed and 15 per cent less power consumption over the previous 14nm LPE process through improvements in transistor structure and process optimization. In addition, Samsung said its use of fully-depleted FinFET transistors brings enhanced manufacturing capabilities to overcome scaling limitations.

Samsung expects its 14nm FinFET process to be used in mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) silicon as well as a range of network and automotive chips that need high performance and power efficiency.

- Alan Patterson
??EE Times

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