Samsung is reportedly putting its plans to mass produce the 3nm process node on hold until 2022.
According to a report from DigiTimes, Samsung will delay its manufacturing launch of the process node due to the coronavirus. Understandably, the virus has slowed the firm's plans to install relevant new equipment on the production lines which in turn will slow everything down.
It's no doubt a bit of a blow for Samsung who has lofty plans of becoming the world's top silicon manufacturer by 2030. Only at the start of this year, it announced that it had succeeded in building its first 3nm prototypes and was keen to beat TSMC in the bid to be first to achieve mass production of 3nm. At that time, Samsung reckoned it would begin production in early 2021.
Like so many other plans this year though, Coronavirus has come along and taken that away.
Samsung can take some solace in the fact that supposedly the issue isn't down to its manufacturing process. Instead, it's the logistics involved in ramping up production and having the right equipment in the right place. Issues with transportation services alone are causing issues when it comes to delivery of valuable production equipment, for instance.
Samsung's previous plans to do with 3nm suggested that it will use a surround gate transistor (GAAFET) technology. It's a completely different type of technology from the fin field-effect transistor (FinFET) we've seen in the 7nm and 5nm processes, with Samsung's hope being that its 3nm chip can improve performance by 33 percent compared to the 5nm process. Obviously, it's complicated business that requires exact equipment to achieve.
Of course, cynics may wonder if the Coronavirus is a handy excuse for Samsung right now, but it seems like a pretty plausible issue. It seems likely that TSMC also won't be mass producing 3nm until 2022 too, and we can't see either company taking such a decision lightly.
It's hard to say yet how it will affect Samsung's revenue projections but right now all companies are reassessing the financial impact of the global pandemic. Hopefully, in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor speed bump in the road to 3nm.
May 15 2020 | 11:00