With the 5nm manufacturing process technically done, the two major foundries, Samsung and TSMC have now shifted their attention to the 3nm process. For Samsung, 3nm mass production should commence in 2021. However, latest reports show that this timeline is no longer feasible for Samsung. The more realistic timeline for its 3nm mass-production is now 2022. According to sources in the industry, Samsung’s 3nm process may have to wait until 2022. The main reason for the delay is obviously the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samsung’s 3nm process mass production may wait until 2022
The pandemic has affected logistics and transportation services, leading to delays in the delivery of extreme ultraviolet lithography machines. It also delays other key production equipment for the 3nm process. This, in turn, has an effect on the time for mass production. As of now, it is unclear whether the 3nm process of Samsung’s competitors will follow their original schedule. If the competitors advance normally, it may be very unfavorable to Samsung.
ASML is the only manufacturer in the world that can produce extreme ultraviolet lithography machines. The company has previously lowered its performance forecast for the first quarter of this year. It plunges from between 3.1 billion euros and 3.3 billion euros to 2.3 billion euros – 2.4 billion euros. The reduction in its first-quarter performance expectations is mainly due to the impact of the epidemic. However, other reasons include delays in the delivery of lithography machines, and some manufacturers have concerns about its delivery capabilities. In order to speed up the delivery process, some manufacturers even require them to deliver before completing the normal factory acceptance.
According to previous reports, Samsung’s 3nm process will use a surround gate transistor (GAAFET) technology. This is a completely different technology from the fin field-effect transistor (FinFET) in the 7nm and 5nm processes. Samsung’s 3nm chip can improve performance by 33% relative to its 5nm process.