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Samsung Mass Producing 14nm FinFET Chips

Samsung announced that it has begun mass production of chips on its new 14nm FinFET process. This is the first time a company other than Intel has built FinFET-based three-dimensional chips. FinFETs are what will allow foundries to overcome performance and scaling limitations of the 20nm planar process.

The new process enables up to 20 percent faster speed, 35 percent less power consumption, and 30 percent productivity gain when compared to Samsung's own 20nm process, on which chips such as the Exynos 5430 (Galaxy Alpha) and Exynos 5433 (Galaxy Note 4) were built.

“Samsung's advanced 14nm FinFET process technology is undoubtedly the most advanced logic process technology in the industry," said Gabsoo Han, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, System LSI Business, Samsung Electronics. “We expect the production of our 14nm mobile application processor to positively impact the growth of the mobile industry by enabling further performance improvements for cutting-edge smartphones."

The move to FinFETs also puts Samsung much closer to Intel than ever. This is due both to Samsung's aggressive research in the area for more than a decade, but also Intel's delays for its own 14nm process. Technically, though, Samsung's 14nm is not a pure 14nm process, but somewhere between a 20nm process and a 14nm process -- which still leaves Samsung in a much better position relative to Intel than in the past.

Formerly, Intel went to 22nm FinFET when others like Samsung and TSMC were only moving to 28nm planar. That's a difference of about a generation and a half in process node technology; now, that difference has seemingly shrunk to around half a generation. With any luck, that difference could disappear completely in the coming years, as Moore's Law will approach its end. It will become harder and less profitable to move to the next process mode for the pioneers of smallest process nodes, allowing those who are behind to catch up to the latest node technology.

The first chip to use the 14nm FinFET process from Samsung is probably going to be the Exynos 7420, the same chip that's supposed to appear in the Galaxy S6. The Galaxy S6 will likely be announced at Samsung's March 1 event in Barcelona.

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  • WINTERLORD
    well if AMD wont give intel competition maybe Samsung will and that means possably lower prices in the future for cpu's
    Reply
  • Martell1977
    If AMD were to have Samsung build their new architecture on this node it would be a huge leap back into competitiveness on the CPU front. Intel would lose their massive lead in process' and possibly in power efficiency. Wouldn't hurt to jump GPU's to it as well, if that's possible.

    Just have to wait and see what AMD does.
    Reply
  • mxpie6
    well if AMD wont give intel competition maybe Samsung will and that means possably lower prices in the future for cpu's
    The only area AMD is not currently "competitive" to the conscientious buyer is ultra high end gaming or workstation systems. Big intel has sway on vendors, so OEM prebuilts come with i7's that the majority of the buyers will never need. *shrug*
    Reply
  • Darth415
    AMD is hardly competitive in any space other than mainstream and low end desktops. Their chips are obese power hogs compared to the Intel competition on virtually all fronts, and Intel dominates the market for those who want a machine with high responsiveness that does more than casual multimedia tasks. Don't get me wrong, I WANT AMD to compete, but they aren't.
    Reply
  • irish_adam
    Thats a bit of an exageration Darth, i built a PC for my girlfriend to go to uni with and i put an AMD A10 in it and its just as responsive as my Intel i5 2500k in everyday tasks, she can even play things like portal on it no problem. For everything she uses her computer for its perfect.

    AMD are screwed until next year when their new architecture comes out, this should coincide with a nice jump to samsung/global foundries 14nm finfet. If AMD can up their single core performance with their new architecture which i should think that they will, couple that with the power advantages of halving the size of the transistors with the new process and they could bring themselves back into the game.

    I need a reason to upgrade my aging i5 and if AMD can make a chip that can compete with the top end i5 of the time when it comes to performance/watt then i'll go with AMD. We need someone to give Intel a kick up the bum and if AMD can do it then i'll reward them with my custom
    Reply
  • Murissokah
    well if AMD wont give intel competition maybe Samsung will and that means possably lower prices in the future for cpu's

    Let's not forget the x86 cross-licensing agreement. No company is allowed to produce x86 compatible processors unless they get Intel and AMD to agree (good luck with that). In the past, Nvidia tried to get into the agreement and got a boatload of money instead, as Intel is not willing to open this market.

    As long as the user base does not shift from windows, and Microsoft does not come up with a really good multiplatform OS (Herculean Task), we are stuck to AMD and Intel. Samsung is legally prohibited from producing x86 CPUs.

    If Samsung and AMD were to work together, though, that would be an entirely different scenario. AMD has already forced Intel to agree to them producing their Chips through a third party.
    Reply
  • CalHob
    "This is the first time a company other than Intel has built FinFET-based three-dimensional chips." This is incorrect. TSMC is just ahead of Samsung in this regard.
    Reply
  • WINTERLORD
    I think I read saomewhere recently that "AMD" might be up for sale not sure if this is true but if so maybe Samsung will buy them oout
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    Thats a bit of an exageration Darth, i built a PC for my girlfriend to go to uni with and i put an AMD A10 in it and its just as responsive as my Intel i5 2500k in everyday tasks, she can even play things like portal on it no problem. For everything she uses her computer for its perfect.

    AMD are screwed until next year when their new architecture comes out, this should coincide with a nice jump to samsung/global foundries 14nm finfet. If AMD can up their single core performance with their new architecture which i should think that they will, couple that with the power advantages of halving the size of the transistors with the new process and they could bring themselves back into the game.

    I need a reason to upgrade my aging i5 and if AMD can make a chip that can compete with the top end i5 of the time when it comes to performance/watt then i'll go with AMD. We need someone to give Intel a kick up the bum and if AMD can do it then i'll reward them with my custom

    Depends on the A10 you have though. The i5 2500K has been around as long as the first generation of AMDs APUs and is still a bit more powerful than the current generation.

    The fact is that Intel has a uArch that has been able to stay a mid to high end performer for 4 years while an AMD CPU from that same time period is not nearly as powerful today (a Phenom II).

    That doesn't mean they are bad, my wifes system uses a Phenom II 965BE. What it means is that Intel has had so little competition that they have been able to delay a new CPU. We should have had Broadwell out last year yet that was skipped for a enhanced Haswell, which is basically what happens when Intel releases a better stepping like the Q6600 G0, and delayed Braodwell to where we will now push to Skylake.

    Even with that delay and extra time, AMD has not caught up in single or multi-core performance and Skylake is set to be a pretty decent boost in performance and features including PCIe 4.0 on higher end models while AMD has not even hit PCIe 3.0 yet.

    I still have hope that AMD will pull their heads out of their rears and get back to making good CPUs but it has been a good long while since they made anything that pushes Intel.
    Reply
  • spm_76
    >>now, that difference has seemingly shrunk to around half a generation.<<

    WTF? if Samsung is in volume production of 14nm then how is it half a generation behind Intel which is also on 14nm? Also if Samsung is now mass producing SoCs (which I think is doubtful), Samsung is ahead of Intel because Intel has just started mass producing 14nm CPU chips - SoCs tend to follow 6 months later.
    Reply