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Samsung Reveals 4nm Process Generation, Full Foundry Roadmap

Kinam Kim, President of Samsung Electronics’ Semiconductor Business

At the annual Samsung Foundry Forum, Samsung announced its foundry’s roadmap for the next few years, which includes an 18nm FD-SOI generation targeting low-cost IoT chips as well as 8nm, 7nm, 6nm, 5nm, and even 4nm process generations.

18nm Fully Depleted – Silicon on Insulator (FD-SOI)

Samsung will expand its 28FDS process into a broader platform that will also offer Radio Frequency (RF) and embedded Magnetic Random Access Memory (eMRAM) options to its foundry customers.

The company will also launch the 18FDS process, which is the next-generation process that targets low-cost IoT chips.

8nm Low Power Plus (8LPP)

The 8nm process generation seems to be Samsung’s last generation before the company plans to use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. The company said that the 8LPP process combines key process innovations from its 10LPP process, as well as further improvements in performance and gate density compared to 10LPP.

7nm Low Power Plus (7LPP)

The 7LPP process will be Samsung’s first generation to use EUV lithography. According to the company, EUV lithography is what will allow Moore’s Law to continue and foundries to keep shrinking transistors down to 1nm.

6nm Low Power Plus (6LPP)

The 6LPP generation will improve on 7LPP, primarily by allowing greater area scalability and making chips more efficient.

5nm Low Power Plus (5LPP)

The 5LPP process will be Samsung’s last one to use a “FinFET” structure, as that type of architecture reaches its physical limits. This generation will also focus on area reduction and lower power consumption for chips.

4nm Low Power Plus (4LPP)

The 4LPP process generation will be Samsung’s first to use a “Gate All Around FET” (GAAFET) transistor structure, with Samsung’s own implementation dubbed “Multi Bridge Channel FET” (MBCFET). The technology uses a “Nanosheet” device to overcome the physical limitations of the FinFET architecture.

Pushing Moore’s Law Forward

Even though process generations may not accurately describe how small the transistors actually are these days, all major chip fabrication companies, including Intel, Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC, seem to be pushing Moore’s Law to its very limits and making steady progress with each process generation.

Samsung’s transition to EUV lithography and GAA FETs in the near future should lead to faster and more efficient chips in our devices for the foreseeable future. The competition is likely not far behind, or may even be ahead, but they may also be less willing to share information years ahead of production.

  • AgentLozen
    Intel has made me cynical towards smaller processing nodes in the last few years.

    "February 3, 2018"
    Intel Announces Next Generation Processors

    In a press conference today Intel has announced that it's next generation "Alien Lake" processors will soon be available for purchase.

    Intel has described Alien Lake as a dramatic improvement over last generation Kaby Lake processors. An Intel spokesperson had this to say about the new architecture,
    Intel Spokes Person said:
    "A team of Intel excavators discovered an alien space ship crash site over 10 years ago. Our best scientists and engineers have been reverse engineering the technology we found and have built the Alien Lake cpus around it. We have achieved performance beyond our wildest expectations. Expect Alien Lake to revolutionize how the world views computing."
    Intel has indicated that Alien Lake will be built around a sub-1nm process and is at least 40 years more advanced than any if its competition. Stay tuned to Tomshardware for our full review of Alien Lake."

    Then, a week later, the reviews show a +3% increase to IPC and a 0% increase to clock speed over Kaby Lake. However, it DOES use 10% less power. So there's that....

    It's been this way since Ivy Bridge and I'm now convinced that die shrinks offer no perceivable improvements over their larger counterparts.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    19735300 said:
    It's been this way since Ivy Bridge and I'm now convinced that die shrinks offer no perceivable improvements over their larger counterparts.
    Die shrinks still enable chip designers to pack more transistors in the same power and area budget. Intel simply chose to apply most of those gains to increased IGP performance and smaller die sizes instead of increasing core count. Now that AMD has been reasonably successful with Ryzen, you can expect more aggressive movement from Intel over the next few years.
    Reply
  • anbello262
    19735300 said:
    Then, a week later, the reviews show a +3% increase to IPC and a 0% increase to clock speed over Kaby Lake. However, it DOES use 10% less power. So there's that....

    It's been this way since Ivy Bridge and I'm now convinced that die shrinks offer no perceivable improvements over their larger counterparts.

    That is only valid for desktop processors. For GPUs, mobile systems, NAND, XPoint and a lot of other stuff, this things are GREAT. Smarthpones are advancing a lot every year, and we're not very far from the moment a high end smartphone equals a lowish-tier desktop, and high end ultrathin/ultralight laptops have no more heat issues. This will help enable that.

    For desktop processors, on the other had, die shrinks usually mean harder to cool processors that consume less energy, which balances out and we get a refreshed last generation'.
    Reply
  • iPanda
    LOL, Agent you are spot on with the meh-ness of the last few gens. Perhaps with the push for higher pixel count monitors, UHD media/streams, AR/VR, ryzen high core counts... we will see Intel push out something more substantial this time around.
    Reply
  • artk2219
    19735402 said:
    19735300 said:
    Then, a week later, the reviews show a +3% increase to IPC and a 0% increase to clock speed over Kaby Lake. However, it DOES use 10% less power. So there's that....

    It's been this way since Ivy Bridge and I'm now convinced that die shrinks offer no perceivable improvements over their larger counterparts.

    That is only valid for desktop processors. For GPUs, mobile systems, NAND, XPoint and a lot of other stuff, this things are GREAT. Smarthpones are advancing a lot every year, and we're not very far from the moment a high end smartphone equals a lowish-tier desktop, and high end ultrathin/ultralight laptops have no more heat issues. This will help enable that.

    For desktop processors, on the other had, die shrinks usually mean harder to cool processors that consume less energy, which balances out and we get a refreshed last generation'.

    Thats pretty much it, mobile is seeing the vast majority of the improvements due to die shrinks, and honestly what impresses me the most, is that AMD was able to take this stinker: http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Bulldozer/AMD-FX-Series%20FX-4100.html . Refine it, improve it, shove in a GPU, take it down to 15 Watts, and create this: http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Bulldozer/AMD-FX-Series%20for%20Notebooks%20FX-9800P.html . Which was then promptly ignored by the OEM's, even though it would have made a damned decent relatively gaming capable thin and light laptop.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    @AGENTLOZEN, your point is valid in the desktop/HEDT segment as Intel has been stagnating a lot since Ivy Bridge but to say the process shrinks don't matter comment is just silly. Its not the die shrinks that matter here, its what Intel choose to do with them i.e. make more money. Watch the HEDT lines from Intel and AMD get announced next week, that is what 14nm can do in desktops on a technological level. We are about to have 12 core Intel CPU's and 16 core AMD CPU's, without those being on 14nm you would never have that many strong cores ruing at decent frequencies.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    19735402 said:
    19735300 said:
    It's been this way since Ivy Bridge and I'm now convinced that die shrinks offer no perceivable improvements over their larger counterparts.
    That is only valid for desktop processors. For GPUs, mobile systems, NAND, XPoint and a lot of other stuff, this things are GREAT.
    Agreed, although NAND actually tends to get slower, as the cells get smaller. But it's good for improving GB/$.

    And you forgot server CPUs, which have experienced a remarkable run up in core count, over the past decade. Their performance (across all cores) has been increasing, substantially.

    19735402 said:
    Smarthpones are advancing a lot every year, and we're not very far from the moment a high end smartphone equals a lowish-tier desktop,
    No, smart phones still have much worse single-thread performance than any Kaby Lake-based desktop or mobile processor. They can only win via core count, which only helps in a small but growing number of cases.

    The reality of mobile performance is that it's hitting the same wall that we've seen with x86 CPUs. It had a great run, but now they're on roughly the same Performance/W curve (once you factor in the x86 vs. ARM architectural differences).
    Reply
  • bit_user
    BTW, don't forget AVX2. That came in Haswell, and nearly doubled the throughput of vectorizable integer operations. We're about to see the same thing with AVX-512, although it'll be dribbled out over several generations, similar to what we saw with SSE and AVX.

    Of course, it's not good for everything. And many SIMD-friendly workloads can run even faster on a GPU. So, its value is limited but noteworthy.
    Reply
  • CatalyticDragon
    "Samsung Reveals 4nm Process Generation"

    That headline insinuates they have a 4nm process. What they have is a roadmap. I don't need to tell you anybody can write one of those.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    19736750 said:
    That headline insinuates they have a 4nm process. What they have is a roadmap. I don't need to tell you anybody can write one of those.
    They seem to have a fairly specific idea of how they're going to get there. I doubt you could say what it'd take to build working chips at 4 nm.

    And it's news that they announced it. The sad part is no dates. I guess they'd be pretty soft dates, though. Almost guaranteed to slip.
    Reply