Samsung announced that it has begun the mass production of chips utilizing its 14nm Low-Power Plus (LPP) process node. The LPP process node is the second generation 14nm FinFET process from Samsung, which brings improvements in energy efficiency as well as performance.
Samsung's Exynos 7 Octa chip, which powers the Galaxy S6, was built on the 14nm Low-Power Early (LPE) process node. The new process node will be used to build both Samsung's own next-generation chip, the Exynos 8 Octa, as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820. The chips are expected to arrive in the first half of this year.
"We are pleased to start production of our industry-leading, 2nd generation 14nm FinFET process technology that delivers the highest level of performance and power efficiency" said Charlie Bae, executive vice president of sales and marketing for System LSI Business at Samsung Electronics. "Samsung will continue to offer derivative processes of its advanced 14nm FinFET technology to maintain our technology leadership."
Samsung says that the new LPP process delivers up to 15 percent improvements in speed as well as up to 15 percent improvements in power consumption compared to the LPE process. Samsung's new process is one of the best in the chip market, surpassed only by Intel's own 14nm process.
However, Intel has a small share of the smartphone and IoT (Internet of Things) markets and it doesn't let other chips makers use its fabs. Therefore, the most cutting edge chips in the smartphone and IoT markets this year will use either Samsung's 14nm LPP process or TSMC's 16FF+ process.
Qualcomm should be the main beneficiary of Samsung's new process this year. With a new CPU core and a modern process, the Snapdragon 820 will likely avoid the overheating issues of its predecessor, the Snapdragon 810, although it will still largely depend on whether Qualcomm will push the chip past its optimum performance levels or not. Samsung's next-generation chip will also use a custom CPU core and should benefit from the same 14nm LPP improvements.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.