Samsung Foundry started production of 3nm chipsets last month. Yesterday they held a ceremony in honor of the shipment of the first batch of chips.
The 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 simply 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 has beaten TSMC in marketing the 3nm manufacturing process. Compared to the FinFET process, GAA provides more control over the flow. That means the chipset will be more energy efficient.
TSMC will use the FinFET process itself for its 3nm chipsets and expects to ship it later this year. The Taiwanese independent foundry will only use the GAA process for its 2nm chipsets, which it hopes to start shipping in 2026.
Samsung will not make 3nm chipsets for smartphone SoCs as of now. Instead, the chipsets are shipped to be used by cryptocurrency miners. But the 3nm GAA process will be used by Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 SoC. And Samsung hopes to get Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 too, especially when they lost Qualcomm for choosing TSMC over Samsung for their latest flagship, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.
Samsung’s 3nm GAA node promises a 45% reduction in power consumption and a 23% increase in performance compared to 5nm nodes.
Will these promises be kept?
Samsung foundries have struggled, losing Qualcomm’s order for Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipsets to TSMC. And reports claim that Samsung itself will resort to Snapdragon chipsets for the next S-series smartphones.
The issues are the subpar thermal efficiency and performance that Samsung node chipsets have compared to its 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 can be seen if the promises that Samsung makes for 3nm GAA nodes are fulfilled, and if there is really an improvement in efficiency and performance. We’ll have to wait and see how these new SoCs with 3nm GAA nodes fare. After all, this is the first generation of GAA nodes.