Samsung Foundry started production of 3nm chipsets last month. Yesterday they held a ceremony celebrating the shipment of the first batch of French fries.
3nm chipsets come with a new process that is completely different from the usual FinFET design. This new process is called Gate All Around or simple GAA. Samsung has been researching this since the early 2000s and experimenting with the design since 2017. Now they have finally started shipping chips with this technology.
Importantly, Samsung outperformed TSMC in shipping the 3nm manufacturing process to market. Compared to the FinFET process, GAA allows more control over current flow. This means the chipset will be more energy efficient.
TSMC will use its own FinFET process for its 3nm chipsets and expects to ship them later this year. The independent Taiwan foundry will start using the GAA process only for its 2nm chipsets, which it expects to start deliveries in 2026.
Samsung is not making the 3nm chipsets for smartphone SoCs as of now. Instead, chipsets are being shipped to be used by cryptocurrency miners. But the 3nm GAA process will be used by Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 SoC. And Samsung was also hoping to get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, especially when it lost Qualcomm with them choosing TSMC over Samsung for their latest flagship, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.
Samsung’s 3nm GAA node promises a 45% reduction in power consumption and a 23% performance increase when compared to 5nm nodes.
Will these promises be fulfilled?
Samsung foundries are having a hard time losing Qualcomm’s order for Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipsets to TSMC. And reports claim that Samsung itself will be turning to Snapdragon chipsets for the upcoming S series of smartphones.
The issues are the thermal efficiency and sub-par performance that Samsung’s node-based chipsets suffer compared to their TSMC counterparts. A Twitter user compared (opens in new tab)Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, and the results speak for themselves.
It is to be seen that if the promises that Samsung makes for 3nm GAA nodes are kept, and if there really is an improvement in efficiency and performance. We’ll have to wait and see how these new SoCs with 3nm GAA nodes do. After all, this is the first generation of GAA nodes.