Samsung Electronics, one of the largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world, has reportedly finished the development of 7nm manufacturing technology six months ahead of schedule. The development process paves way for the launch of new smartphone chipsets including the Snapdragon 855 from Qualcomm and its own Exynos 9820.
All the flagship smartphones launching this year will be using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, a flagship mobile platform from Qualcomm based on the second-generation 10nm process. The companies are expected to switch to 7nm process for their next generation SoCs, since it will bring tremendous improvements in areas like battery life and performance. Qualcomm switched from older 14nm process to the 10nm process with the launch of Snapdragon 835 SoC in 2017. The processor brought double digit percentage gains in battery life over the outgoing Snapdragon 821 mobile processor. Korean news outlet SEDaily reports that Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm are expected to commence work on the Exynos 9820 and Snapdragon 855 mobile platforms later this year and volumes will increase early next year.
The report adds that Samsung has completed the development of a 7-nanometer foundry process and it is using extreme ultraviolet exposure equipment (EUV) for this process. The South Korean electronics giant initially planned to finish development of the new technology in the second half of this year. Samsung is building a dedicated EUV line for 7nm process and plans to complete the construction in the second half of 2019. The production is expected to begin at this facility in 2020. At MWC 2018, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem based on 7nm process, the world’s first semiconductor designed using the new foundry process.
Samsung is competing with Taiwan-based TSMC for the lead in advanced semiconductor technology with TSMC being the sole chipmaker for Apple’s A series processors. Samsung is believed to have roped in Qualcomm as the first customer and the San Diego-based chipmaker is preparing to send samples for its new mobile chip to Samsung. The early completion of this development phase means Samsung has more time to test its design and prototype chip designs for overall performance.
Samsung has also commenced development of new 5-nanometer foundry process, which will give it significant leadership in the segment. “The Samsung developers who participated in the development of the 7-nanometer process have completed their mission and moved to 5-nano development,” an official from the semiconductor industry said.
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The new foundry process will help in development of new kind of low-power processors for 5G and IoT devices. Samsung is also likely working on Exynos 9820 SoC, an upgrade to Exynos 9810 SoC found under the hood of Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. The new chipset was spotted in Samsung’s product schedule and is likely based on new 7nm process.