A GAA (3-nano gate-all-around) process is expected to be a game changer in the foundry industry. Samsung Electronics plans to catch up with Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s No. 1 foundry, in implementing a GAA 3-nano process in the next three years.
GAA is a next-generation process technology that improves the structure of a semiconductor transistor so that a gate can contact all four sides of a transistor, compared to all three sides in the case of the FinFET process. current. The GAA structure can control the electric current more precisely than the FinFET process.
According to TrendForce, Taiwan’s TSMC accounted for 52.1% of the global foundry market in Q4 2021, far ahead of Samsung Electronics’ 18.3%.
Samsung Electronics is betting on applying GAA technology to the 3nm process to catch up with TSMC. The Korean semiconductor giant is said to have placed wafers in a 3nm GAA process for pilot mass production in early June, becoming the first company in the world to use GAA technology. It is looking to close its gap with TSMC immediately through a quantum technological leap. A 3nm process increases semiconductor performance and battery efficiency by 15% and 30%, respectively, while reducing chip areas by 35% compared to a 5nm process.
Following the application of GAA technology to its 3nm process in the first half of this year, Samsung plans to introduce it into second-generation 3nm chips in 2023 and mass-produce 2nm chips based on GAA in 2025. is to enter the 3nm semiconductor market in the second half of this year using a stable FinFET process, while Samsung Electronics is betting on GAA technology.
If Samsung ensures stable performance in the GAA-based 3nm process, it could be a game-changer in the foundry market, experts say. TSMC is expected to introduce a GAA process from 2nm chips and launch the first product around 2026. For Samsung Electronics, the next three years will be a pivotal time.
Recently, Samsung announced that it will invest a total of 450 trillion won in key industries such as semiconductors over the next five years. However, it faces 3nm barriers. Like Samsung, TSMC also struggles to increase yield in 3nm processes.
TSMC originally planned to mass-produce semiconductors for Intel and Apple with 3-nano technology from July, but is struggling to achieve the desired yield. NVIDIA has paid TSMC up to $9 billion up front to produce the GeForce RTX40 series of GPUs, which will be released this year, using a 3nm process, but will receive 5nm products instead of 3 nm products. Taiwan’s DigiTimes reported that TSMC was having difficulty achieving the desired yield on the 3nm process and as a result revised its technology roadmap several times.
A similar situation is facing Samsung Electronics. Wafers were set up for pilot mass production in the 3nm process, but the company postponed its official mass production announcement due to a low yield issue. Roh Keun-chang, head of research at Hyundai Motor Securities, said: “Unless Samsung Electronics secures enough customers for its 7nm or more advanced processes, it could fuel investor anxiety about the future performance of Samsung Electronics”.