Samsung Foundry this week announced that it has completed development of its first-generation 5 nm fabrication process (previously dubbed 5LPE). The manufacturing technology uses extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) and is set to provide significant performance, power, and area advantages when compared to Samsung’s 7 nm process (known as 7LPP). Meanwhile, Samsung stresses that IP developed for 7LPP can be also used for chips to be made using 5LPE.

5LPE Is Ready (For Sampling)

Samsung’s 5 nm technology continues to use FinFET transistors, but with a new standard cell architecture as well as a mix of DUV and EUV step-and-scan systems. When compared to 7LPP, Samsung says that their 5LPE fabrication process will enable chip developers to reduce power consumption by 20% or improve performance by 10%. Furthermore, the company promises an increase in logic area efficiency of up to 25%.

Advertised PPA Improvements of New Process Technologies
Data announced by companies during conference calls, press briefings and in press releases
vs 28LPP
vs 14LPE
vs 14LPP
vs 10LPE
vs 10LPE
Power 60% 40% 30% ~15% ? 50% 20%
Performance 40% 27% >10% ~10% ? 20% 10%
Area Reduction 50% 30% 30% none ? 40% <20%

The contract maker of semiconductors says that it can reuse all existing 7LPP intellectual property on chips designed for 5LPE technology, which will reduce customers' migration costs and shrink product development cycle. Meanwhile, typically IP vendors tend to optimize and verify their IP for new process nodes, so it remains to be seen whether always reusing 7LPP IP blocks for 5LPE chips will be the most optimal solution.

Samsung Foundry said that it has offered 5LPE process design kit (PDK), design methodologies (DM), electronic design automation (EDA) tools, and IP, to its customers since the Q4 of 2018. In addition, the company has started to provide 5LPE multi project wafer (MPW) shuttle service to its clients. Overall, the technology is ready for design starts and sampling, though it should be noted that as is usually the case with these kinds of announcements, risk production and volume production will still be some distance off.

“In successful completion of our 5nm development, we’ve proven our capabilities in EUV-based nodes,” said Charlie Bae, Executive Vice President of Foundry Business at Samsung Electronics. “Considering the various benefits including PPA and IP, Samsung’s EUV-based advanced nodes are expected to be in high demand for new and innovative applications such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), high performance computing (HPC), and automotive.”

EUV Ramping Up at Samsung

In addition to announcing its 5 nm process technology, Samsung Foundry this week shared some details concerning the ramp up of its 7LPP production using EUVL tools. As it turns out, the company had provided commercial samples of 7LPP chips to interested parties and initiated mass production of select designs early this year.

Samsung Foundry Lithography Roadmap, HVM Start
Data announced by company during conference calls, press briefings and in press releases
2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2022+
1H 2H 1H 2H 1H 2H 1H 2H
*Exact timing not announced
**May be available only to Samsung LSI

As reported, Samsung currently uses ASML’s Twinscan NXE:3400B EUVL scanners to produce 7LPP chips at its Fab S3 in Hwaseong, South Korea. The company is on track to complete its dedicated EUV line in Hwaseong in the second half of 2019 and then start volume production there in 2020.

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Source: Samsung Foundry

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  • AshlayW - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - link

    Poor Intel lol.
  • Dr. Swag - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - link

    Actually, Intel is quite rich
  • jospoortvliet - Thursday, April 18, 2019 - link

    ... and probably doesn't pay much taxes either ;-)
  • Zingam - Saturday, April 20, 2019 - link

    You can't get rich if you pay taxes. The taxes are for the poor to redistribute the wealth to the rich.
    Just think who imposed taxes historically - kings and lords.
  • FreckledTrout - Thursday, April 18, 2019 - link

    Intel is still on 14nm and yet there stock keeps going up. These delays of moving to a new process node don't seem to have impacted them as of yet.
  • surt - Thursday, April 18, 2019 - link

    One way to look at it would be that Intel was so far ahead of their competition they may have strategically decided to slow down, maybe even skip a process node or two in order to save on capital investment.
  • Zingam - Saturday, April 20, 2019 - link

    The Roman Empire was so far ahead of everyone else (but the Persians), so they decided to strategically slow down... until they disappeared (by 1453) completely.
  • genekellyjr - Saturday, April 20, 2019 - link

    The historical assumptions you make are all incorrect. In Intel's context, if the Roman Empire decided to slow down then another empire (e.g. Parthians/Samsung) would over take them - that's not what happened. And the Persians were gone with Alexander to boot. On topic, Intel has capital and will spend it to stay relevant and modernize their processes. But node number means so little now, that their 14 nm+++++ with a high power design is competitive enough still - especially when combined with their processor IP. Intel has real competition, but is still very relevant.
  • Gondalf - Saturday, April 20, 2019 - link

    Depends.....Samsung 7nm is out right now?? NO. TSMC 7nm is out for high power SKUs?? NO yet, we'll see what will be AMD 7nm poison, for now only slides.
    Depends on your manufacturing target, are these fine processes fast as 14nm on high power devices ?? actually NO.

    Too much "NO" and a lot of marketing instead.
  • Someguyperson - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - link

    So, although TSMC beat out Samsung to the 7nm node, Samsung should beat out TSMC when it comes to the 5nm node?

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