Samsung has just taken a major leap with respect to the development and manufacture of microprocessors, as the company reported that they have started with the large-scale production of the first 7nm chips manufactured under the process of ‘extreme ultraviolet lithography’, also known as EUV or EUVL (Extreme Ultra Violet Litography), a process that appeared in the early 2000s and is finally seeing the light.
Today we already have 7nm chips as the case of Apple’s A12 Bionic, which is manufactured by the Taiwanese TSMC, and the Kirin 980 of Huawei, as well as the upcoming launch of Snapdragon 855 by Qualcomm. All these (with the exception of Qualcomm, of which there is still no official information) coincide in a manufacturing process based on ArF technology, or immersion in argon fluoride, which for years has been the traditional method. Therefore, what Samsung has begun to do is a milestone in this segment.
20% more performance or 50% lower energy consumption
The EUV process is still very expensive due to the machines that are required for the manufacture of the microphones, so the companies have faced all kinds of challenges that have made this technology has taken so long to arrive. This new process allows using a single layer to transfer the design of a chip to the silicon wafer, while in ArF technology four layers are required.
Within this process node technology 7LPP (Low Power Plus), manufacturing becomes faster and more efficient, bringing benefits in terms of costs and availability. Specifically, Samsung says that the adoption of this process will bring us a reduction in energy consumption of 50%, or an increase in performance by 20%, all within a surface area 40% smaller in comparison with the company’s previous 10nm technology.
As we know, chip manufacturing is achieved through the use of light to project circuit patterns in wafers. Well, in current Samsung chips of 10nm and 14nm this light has a wavelength of 193nm, while for these new 7nm chips a light with a wavelength of only 13.5nm will be used.
In summary, this will allow significantly increase the density of transistors while optimizing energy consumption, in addition to reducing the number of layers required for each chip and thus reduce production cycles.
Samsung will be producing its 7LPP EUV chips at its ‘Fab S3’ plant, located in Hwaseong, South Korea. The company claims that nowadays it has the capacity to process 1500 wafers per day, but they already plan to increase production by 2020 when they enable a second production line.
Does this mean that the Galaxy S10 will mount this new chip? We’ll see. And when that time comes we can also confirm that there are improvements and benefits that Samsung promises us, that on paper look good, but will have to be seen in practice.