Two of the top foundries in the world belong to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung. The former is the world’s largest independent foundry which means that it manufactures chips for companies like Apple and Huawei that design their own components, but do not have the facilities to fabricate them. TSMC is supposed to host a press conference in April during which it will release more details of its roadmap to 3nm chip production.
Samsung is dropping the use of FinFET transistors to get to 3nm
To get to 3nm, Samsung has dropped the use of its FinFET transistors and instead is using its MBCFET (Multi-Bridge-Channel FET, multi-bridge-channel field effect tube) technology to improve transistor performance. It also is compatible with the FinFET manufacturing process which will make it faster and easier for Samsung to make the move to 3nm. TSMC still will have to decide whether to continue using FinFET transistors or move to Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistors as Samsung has.
Samsung is dropping FinFET transistors and will use GAA to get to the 3nm process node
At stake is the continuation of the observation known as Moore’s Law. Discovered by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, the original observation called for the number of chips inside an integrated circuit to double every year. In 1975, 10 years after he first made the observation, Moore revised his “Law” calling for the number of transistors inside an integrated circuit to double every other year. Over the years, tech analysts have constantly called for the death of Moore’s Law but TSMC and Samsung have kept it alive with the use of technology like extreme ultraviolet lithography. The latter uses ultraviolet light to mark up more precise patterns on a silicon wafer; since these patterns show where transistors will be placed inside a chip, the ability to mark up these patterns more precisely allow for the placement of more transistors inside.
This April, when TSMC discusses the 3nm process node with the press, we should learn much more about the foundry’s roadmap to 3nm, 2nm and perhaps even lower.