Samsung Completes 8nm Process Qualifications
Samuel Wan / 2 years ago
Due to limits of silicon, each new process node is less of an improvement than before. For Samsung, their 10nm process is the latest full production process node. Before moving to 7nm, Samsung has decided to do a pit stop at 8nm. According to the Korean conglomerate, the new 8nm process, 8LPP is now qualified and ready for production. This comes 3 months before previously scheduled expectations.
Due to the limits of current production equipment, 8nm is the lowest Samsung is able to go with. To hit the next 7nm node, it will require advanced technologies like EUV (Extreme Ultra Violet). This holds true for all lower nodes until silicon itself is no longer viable. The first 7nm production will only use partial EUV for some layers. This is no doubt due to the cost and complexity of EUV which has delayed it’s arrival on the market.
Samsung 8nm Shows Diminishing Returns Over 10nm
For 8nm, Samsung is intending for it to be a shortstop. As such, it will have a very quick ramp up to full production to replace 10nm. This suggests that design for SoCs and other processors should port over from the 10nm lineup. Compared to 10LPP, 8LPP will feature 10-percent lower power consumption with up to 10-percent area reduction. These gains are quite small but this is the limit for standard DUV lithography. The main beneficiaries will be reduced costs and slightly better battery life/thermals.
So far, neither Samsung nor their customers have disclosed any 8nm production plans. With qualification out of the way, it at least means quality standards are now met. This should open up the way to the first chips coming out late 2017 or early 2018. Perhaps we may see 8nm used for the new Samsung and Qualcomm SoC for the annual smartphone refresh in early 2018. With 7nm on its way in 2019, 8nm looks to have quite a short life.