An opportunity has come to Samsung Electronics… What Happened to Foundry No. 1 TSMC Kang Kyung-joo’s IT Cafe

An employee inspects a photomask, a substrate used to make circuits on a wafer disk, in a clean room at Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor factory in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do. [사진=삼성전자 제공]

Taiwan’s TSMC, the No. 1 global foundry (semiconductor consignment production) company, is having difficulties in securing yield in the state-of-the-art 3-nano process, foreign media reported. Aiming to commercialize the 3-nano process in the first half of this year Samsung(71,900 +0.56%)There is an analysis that an opportunity has come.

Foreign media “TSMC, 3-nano mass production difficult in the second half”

According to the industry on the 26th, Taiwanese information technology (IT) media ‘DIGITIMES’ and overseas IT media ‘Tom’s Hardware’ recently cited semiconductor equipment companies, saying, “We are having difficulties in securing 3nm semiconductor yield. TSMC, which has TSMC, is dividing the process into N3 (3-nano process), N3E (3-nano process with reduced production cost), and N3B (3-nano process for some customers), but the yield problem has not been resolved.”

He continued, “It is difficult to meet the mass production target in the second half of the year,” he said.

TSMC originally planned to start operating a 3-nm process production line in Taiwan from this month and mass-produce semiconductors such as Intel and Apple with 3-nano technology applied from July. However, due to difficulties in securing yield, setbacks in the future development schedule became inevitable.

In fact, it is known that Nvidia paid TSMC $9 billion (about 10.76 trillion won) in advance for the production of the GeForce RTX40 series of graphics processing unit (GPU), which is scheduled to be released within this year, and received 5nm instead of 3nm.

TSMC logo [사진=로이터 연합뉴스]

TSMC logo [사진=로이터 연합뉴스]

The N4P process is also applied to the A16 chip that will be used in the next iPhone 14 series of Apple, the largest customer of TSMC, and the Dimensity 9000 semiconductor developed by Taiwan MediaTek as a chipset for smartphones also uses the N4 process.

Even DigiTimes, a representative pro-TSMC, said, “TSMC has had difficulties in securing 3nm process yield and revised the existing technology roadmap several times.” “If the 3nm yield problem persists, customers will There is no choice,” he said. However, the media left open the possibility of saying, “TSMC has never officially acknowledged the delay of the N3 process.”

It is known that semiconductors manufactured using the 3-nm process have improved performance and battery efficiency by 15% and 30%, respectively, while reducing the chip area by 35% compared to 5-nm. TSMC applied ‘FinFET’ technology to the 3-nm process.

The FinFET process controls signals by blocking current with a circuit breaker shaped like a shark’s fin. On the other hand, the foundry is chasing TSMC. Samsungintroduced ‘Gate-All-Around’ (GAA) technology in which the channel and gate of the transistor contact each other on four sides instead of the FinFET process from the 3-nm process.

The transistor constituting the semiconductor is divided into a channel through which current flows and a gate for controlling the channel. In GAA, the gate surrounds four sides of the channel. In a transistor, the more the gate-channel contact surface, the more precisely the current flow can be controlled.

Differences in semiconductor transistor structure [사진=삼성전자]

Differences in semiconductor transistor structure [사진=삼성전자]

GAA can have the effect of increasing the channel adjustment ability, such as finely controlling the current flow of the semiconductor. Compared to the existing FinFET structure in which the gate and the channel are in contact on three sides, GAA can increase power efficiency, so it is expected to dramatically increase the battery efficiency of 3-nano-equipped products.

TSMC and TSMC in the ultra-fine process called the future of the foundry SamsungAs the two companies have chosen different technologies, the industry has been very interested in securing the yields of each company. As TSMC, which has been considered as the biggest winner in the future foundry market, first got caught up in a technological ‘hurdle’, the industry’s eyes were naturally drawn to it. Samsungis leaning towards

In GAA, which is expected to increase performance while reducing chip area and power consumption, SamsungIt is analyzed that it can dramatically increase its market dominance if it secures a stable yield. Samsungaims to mass-produce 3-nano chips in the first half of the year.

Foreign media is also putting strength in this analysis. Tom’s Hardware said, “TSMC maintained the FinFET process even at 3 nm, but this case shows that it is very difficult to achieve satisfactory yield with FinFET.”

“It could be a game changer if we secure a stable 3nm yield”

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong listens to an explanation of the semiconductor packaging line at the Onyang plant in Asan, Chungcheongnam-do in July 2019 [사진=삼성전자 제공]

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong listens to an explanation of the semiconductor packaging line at the Onyang plant in Asan, Chungcheongnam-do in July 2019 [사진=삼성전자 제공]

TSMC is known to plan to apply GAA from 2nm. in the industry SamsungSecuring the GAA process yield is expected to be a win-win for narrowing the technology gap with TSMC at once.

DigiTimes said, “TSMC is idling without entering the GAA.” Samsung‘s 3nm process, although the estimate is very low, many semiconductor customers are not expected to dare to take the risk.” Samsunglooked at the challenge with skepticism.

He continued, “TSMC is expected to surely mass-produce 3-nano semiconductors to be supplied to Apple and Intel by next year despite the delay in the 3-nano process. Mediatek and Nvidia have also decided to place orders. Samsung“It may be difficult to recover a large amount of investment,” he said.

Tom’s HardwareSamsunghas to overcome important obstacles in the 3nm process,” and expressed his expectations, saying, “It is very difficult to change to GAA, but if successful, it will be a strength that will make the next process easier.”

SamsungIntroduced GAA technology to 3nm in the first half of this year, announced plans to mass-produce 3nm 2nd generation next year and GAA-based 2nano process in 2025, and is confident of preoccupying next-generation transistor technology.

An industry official said, “SamsungTSMC and TSMC are the only companies in the world that can make semiconductor chips with 5nm or less technology, although there is an observation that the yield of the 3nm process will also be opaque as it is experiencing a yield problem even at 4nm. Samsung “Since the application of GAA itself is the first in the history of semiconductors, if Samsung secures a stable yield, it can become a game changer in the foundry market.”

Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus [사진=삼성전자 제공]

Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus [사진=삼성전자 제공]

Reporter Kang Kyung-joo, Hankyung.com qurasoha@hankyung.com

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