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Samsung foundry roadmap to include low-cost 14nm, 10nm

Posted: 25 Apr 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry roadmap? 8in technology? FD-SOI production?

Expanding FD-SOI production and offering low-cost alternatives to existing FinFET technologies are one of the few announcements that officials from Samsung Semiconductor Inc. (SSI) revealed in its company's foundry roadmap.

Perhaps the most relevant announcement is the development of a low-cost 14nm FinFET process, 14nm LPC. The company has already shipped more than half a million 14nm wafers and expanded the process to included networking/server and automotive applications, but Samsung's Kelvin Low said he expects next-generation applications to move to the lower-cost option.

"There are always concerns about trading off cost versus performance," Low, Samsung's senior director of foundry marketing, told EE Times. "LPC has the same PDK of [14nm] LPP. The number of steps has been reduced...That allows us to achieve a lower cost point on manufacturing and we decide to share that with our customers."

Samsung will also offer an RF add-on to 14LPC this year. Low wouldn't elaborate on just what steps had been reduced, or discuss the cost differential between 14nm LPP (Low-Power Plusthe 2nd generation of the company's 14nm FinFET process technology) and LPC processes. The lower-cost option will be available sometime this year.

Low added that Samsung will release a 10nm LPP process technology that offers a 10% performance boost from the first-generation 10nm LPE (Low-Power Early) process. Although the foundry has begun work on a 7LPP node with "competitive PPA scaling," Low said there is confusion about 10nm and 7nm.

"We think 10nm will be a much longer node than other foundries are claiming it will be. We think 7nm has to be defined and optimised to be cost effective to the masses, not just the high margin products," he said. "EUV is an important enabler for a 7m cost affordable node."

Samsung recently gave a presentation on its EUV process to a group of customers but would not detail it for EE Times. Low said the foundry has a few proofs but is not ready to announce availability for 7nm EUV.

In the realm of available offerings, Samsung is increasing availability of 8in technology, ranging from 180nm to 65nm. The 8in node will cover eFlash, power devices, image sensors and high voltage processes.

"We are continuously getting requests for customers to have 8inch technology and capacity made available," Low noted, adding, "I think right now there is a shortage of supply in certain regions and this request is becoming more prominent."

Samsung will also add RF and eNVM technology to its existing 28nm FD-SOI baseline in 2017 and 2018.

The foundry is focusing more on bleeding edge processes than falling smartphone shipments. "It's all relative. What's important is there are many new applications that are coming in and that's very exciting stuff," Low said, adding that the automotive market holds a lot of promise for Samsung Semiconductor.

To circumvent challenges in those bleeding edge nodes, Low said Samsung is engaged in deeper discussions and earlier collaborations with customers. The foundry is also opening its design flow and design methods to its customers to accelerate design time.

-Jessica Lipsky
EE Times

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