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7nm Chips Coming: Samsung Starts Production of EUV-Based 7LPP Process

(Image credit: Arcansel/Shutterstock)

Who needs 10-nanometer chips when you can go all the way down to 7nm? Samsung announced that it has begun the production of its 7nm Low Power Plus (LPP) process, which is the industry’s first process to use extreme ultraviolet lithography.

First EUV-Based Process

Samsung said that it has completed all process technology development and has started wafer production of the EUV-based 7LPP process in the company’s S3 Fab in Hwaseong, Korea. It noted that the process can be used by its customers to build next-generation 5G, artificial intelligence, datacenter, IoT, automotive, and networking chips.

Unlike the rest of the industry, which for now will be stuck with conventional argon fluoride (ArF) immersion technologies that use 193nm wavelengths and require expensive multi-patterning mask sets, Samsung’s EUV-based 7PP process uses a 13.5nm wavelength to expose silicon. Intel may actually be one of the last companies to adopt EUV lithography in its processes, as the company is expected to adopt the technology only after 2021.

Samsung has been researching EUV lithography since early 2000’s. The fact that it’s taken almost two decades to become practical is why many were skeptical that it would ever become reality.

Benefits of the 7nm EUV Process

According to Samsung, the EUV lithography enables the use of a single mask whereas ArF may need up to four masks. On average, Samsung’s 7LPP process should reduce the total number of masks by 20 percent compared to non-EUV processes. This will save Samsung’s customers both money and time.

Beyond lower complexity and better yields, Samsung also promises that its 7nm EUV process will deliver a 40 percent increase in area efficiency with 20 percent higher performance or up to 50 percent lower power consumption compared to its 10nm FinFET process. This seems like a significant improvement in an era when Moore’s Law is already considered dead (or dying).

Peter Jenkins, vice president of corporate marketing at ASML, the largest supplier in the world of photolithography systems for the semiconductor industry, said:

"Commercialization of EUV technology is a revolution for the semiconductor industry and will have a huge impact on our everyday lives. It is our great pleasure to collaborate with Samsung and other leading chip makers on this fundamental shift in semiconductor process manufacturing.”

Samsung said its ecosystems partner (such as Ansys, Arm, Cadence, Mentor, SEMCO, Synopsys and VeriSilicon) will provide Foundation and Advanced IP, Advanced Packaging, and Services to fully enable the company’s customers to develop their products on this new platform. 

  • isofilm
    If true, had to start without pellicles (not perfected yet), in order to not be totally shamed by having to ship international Galaxy S10's with 7nm Snapdragon 8150 from competitor TSMC. Already confirmed to ship S10's to all US and other major countries using 7nm Snapdragon 8150 TSMC chips (as usual).
    Reply
  • vaniamakarov
    But can it run Crysis?
    Reply
  • x_elusiv_x
    In future articles, when you layout things like "this will take 1 mask instead of 4 masks". Would you mind throwing in a sentence or two explaining what that is exactly. Im sure there is a way to do it so that the tech-snobs arnt like "google it already...sheez". And at the same time, interested parties...such as myself...who are clueless, can actually learn something.

    Thanks
    Reply
  • secretxax
    Things like the DNA storage drive and AI combined might be the future for computers' primary processing power. Like maybe programming AI into the DNA tech, and using the amalgamation of all our prior tech knowledge to be able to use the learning AI's processing power and translating it into instructions that computers can use. Or maybe just for the highest-end machines only (in the far future of course).
    Reply
  • expert_vision
    @X_ELUSIV_X The mask is just a film with holes in it used to shadow UV light on the wafer and create the desired pattern. Then, areas exposed to UV can be etched away.
    Reply
  • x_elusiv_x
    21416521 said:
    Things like the DNA storage drive and AI combined might be the future for computers' primary processing power. Like maybe programming AI into the DNA tech, and using the amalgamation of all our prior tech knowledge to be able to use the learning AI's processing power and translating it into instructions that computers can use. Or maybe just for the highest-end machines only (in the far future of course).

    Keep trying....you'll get it one day.
    Reply
  • x_elusiv_x
    21417040 said:
    @X_ELUSIV_X The mask is just a film with holes in it used to shadow UV light on the wafer and create the desired pattern. Then, areas exposed to UV can be etched away.

    Thanks
    Reply