AMD to use Samsung's 3nm tech as it looks to dual-source future chips: report

AMD
(Image credit: AMD)

Samsung Foundry is about to land an order from AMD to make the latter's processors using 3nm-class process technology with gate-all-around field effect transistors (GAAFETs), reports Korea Economic Daily. The information is strictly unofficial and should be taken with a grain of salt. Yet, if the report is accurate, this will mark the first time in recent years that AMD will dual-source its products. 

AMD's chief executive, Lisa Su, reportedly said at ITF World 2024 that the company will mass-produce chips on a 3-nm-class GAA process, and the only company to offer such a production technology is Samsung Foundry. Unfortunately, it is unclear which products — CPUs (CCDs and/or IODs), GPUs, DPUs, chipsets, or maybe adaptive SoCs — AMD aims to produce at Samsung Foundry, though we would bet on some small chips initially to maximize yields. 

"Lisa Su's comments are viewed as effectively formalizing AMD's 3nm foundry collaboration with Samsung," an industry source told Korea Economic Daily

The move to use Samsung Foundry in addition to TSMC can be considered a strategic move for AMD as the company will expand its manufacturing capacity, sell more products, establish an important relationship, and gain leverage for price negotiations with TSMC. 

For Samsung, securing AMD as a client is critical in closing the market share gap with TSMC. However, Samsung is so significantly behind the world's No. 1 contract maker of chips that it would take years to challenge the Taiwanese foundry. Nonetheless, this partnership could significantly boost Samsung's foundry business and enhance its competitive position in the semiconductor market. 

GAAFETs offer several benefits over the currently used FinFETs. GAA transistors feature horizontal channels completely surrounded by gates. These channels are created through epitaxy and selective material removal, allowing designers to fine-tune them by adjusting the channel width: wider channels enhance performance, while narrower channels reduce power consumption. The architecture of GAAFETs can significantly decrease transistor leakage current (lowering power usage) and reduce variability in transistor performance, which is good for mobile processors and datacenter-grade products. 

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • artk2219
    This is what they used to do with Global foundries, prior to them getting stuck in a process rut, the smallest node they currently offer is 12nm. Granted thats still perfectly fine for pretty much anything that isn't the bleeding edge, but they're not going to be making the latest CPU's, GPU's, or phones.
    Reply
  • Pierce2623
    artk2219 said:
    This is what they used to do with Global foundries, prior to them getting stuck in a process rut, the smallest node they currently offer is 12nm. Granted thats still perfectly fine for pretty much anything that isn't the bleeding edge, but they're not going to be making the latest CPU's, GPU's, or phones.
    Yeah and AMD planned to continue to buy new wafers from GloFo for minor chips like IO dies until they canceled their 7nm and decided they weren’t going to work on any advanced nodes at all anymore. AMD IO dies would’ve been on GloFo 7nm for Zen 4 until GloFo messed it all up with their lack of R&D. As it stands now the Zen 3 IO die is the newest chip they buy from GloFo and I’m sure you already know that it’s on the 12nm process you mentioned.
    Reply
  • Notton
    Samsung 3nm GAAFET was supposed to come out in 2023.
    It was supposedly being produced in 2022 June.
    In fact, there were rumors of AMD looking at Samsung 3nm GAAFET all the way back in 2021 Nov.
    It's 2024 May.

    So... here is hoping AMD passes on the cost savings to customers, because I don't see why anyone would use Samsung 3nm, unless it was a huge discount deal.
    Reply
  • ThomasKinsley
    AMD worked with Samsung to improve graphics in their Exynos chips. Now they are choosing them for fab work. It seems like AMD and Samsung are forming a partnership much like Nvidia and MediaTek. Interesting turn of events in the GPU industry.
    Reply
  • usertests
    I just want to see AMD make a dirt cheap APU over at Samsung, such as Sonoma Valley. Then shove them into the channel like Alder Lake-N. Did I mention CHEAP?

    The other options would be more interesting for analysis, such as dual sourcing chiplets or making a GPU die.
    Reply
  • spiketheaardvark
    Is this because Samsung has what they want or is it because because Nvidia and Apple have bought up all of the available supply from TSMC?

    I'd be curious to know what the profit per mm2 of a desktop CPU is compared to a top end datacenter "GPU". Nvidia is selling every data center GPU as fast as they can make them and I bet they can afford to pay a premium for the wafer supply on those things.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    I guess the reasons are,
    1. Diversification - In case war breaks out in Taiwan or any natural disaster
    2. Getting too squeezy over at TSMC - With major companies like Apple, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Intel vying for allocation. Which leads to,
    3. Cost - Its not cheap with all the demands.
    Reply
  • renz496
    spiketheaardvark said:
    Is this because Samsung has what they want or is it because because Nvidia and Apple have bought up all of the available supply from TSMC?

    I'd be curious to know what the profit per mm2 of a desktop CPU is compared to a top end datacenter "GPU". Nvidia is selling every data center GPU as fast as they can make them and I bet they can afford to pay a premium for the wafer supply on those things.
    the former? isn't that intel also enter the fray to get TSMC 3nm?
    Reply
  • usertests
    spiketheaardvark said:
    Is this because Samsung has what they want or is it because because Nvidia and Apple have bought up all of the available supply from TSMC?
    AMD does not have much trouble getting wafers from TSMC, but they could almost always use more and a number of their own products are competing for wafers, from high-end AI chips, to desktop CPUs/GPUs, to laptop APUs, to the console chips, etc.

    What Samsung could offer is something worse than what TSMC has, but signficantly cheaper wafers that are not being shared between dozens of different products. It would increase the volume that AMD can sell, and possibly allow them to address the low-end better. We can see similar things being done over at Intel, which can use TSMC in addition to its own nodes.
    Reply
  • suryasans
    I believe this Samsung node will be used to produce AMD's low end version of AMD Ryzen AI with ultra low power profiles. It's the most logical choice because AMD can bundle Samsung memory chips (LP-DDR5 and nVME NAND) to its platforms that will be sold to the OEMs.
    Reply