On the last day of the last quarter, Samsung Electronics announced that it has started mass production of 3nm chips for some customers in the high-performance computing segment, ahead of TSMC in terms of mastering this stage of lithography. Informed sources claim that the mass production of 3-nm products by Samsung can only be in very small quantities.
First, as the Nikkei Asian Review explains, Samsung decision to start manufacturing 3nm chips at the Hwaseong facility, which traditionally debugs and masters new lithography, suggests that production volumes will not be very large. Mass production of Samsung chips is carried out by a contract factory in Pyeongtaek; where the most modern production equipment is available.
Secondly, according to a Japanese publication citing informed sources, the first recipients of Samsung 3nm chips will be Chinese manufacturers of specialized accelerators for cryptocurrency mining. Considering that the market for such equipment is inevitably entering a recession phase; Samsung will inevitably have to look for more reliable customers in the future.
Samsung wants to fight TSMC in the battle to produce 3nm chips
According to the results of the first quarter of this year, Samsung could claim only 16.3% of the market for contract chip manufacturing services, while rival TSMC controlled 53.6% of the market, having increased its share in three years by eight percentage points. The Taiwanese company is going to start producing 3nm products by the end of this year. Last month, Samsung changed more than ten executives in its contract division; according to the source, although it usually makes all planned personnel changes in December. This only speaks to the importance of the problem of the lack of progress; in the contract direction for the South Korean giant; which three years ago announced its intention to become the market leader by 2030.
“We will be the world’s No. 1 player in the nonmemory sector by 2030”, Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Samsung’s de facto chief, said in 2019. Since then, TSMC has added about eight points to its lead.