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Samsung 10nm Takes Density Crown

January 10, 2017

Author: David Kanter

Samsung is the first company to reach 10nm production, offering the densest FinFET process to date. The 10nm LPE technology will power smartphone and server processors in 2017, followed by an LPP variant in 2018. The company stole a march on industry leader TSMC at the 14nm node and has repeated this feat at 10nm. In doing so, it secured the business of Qualcomm—both a competitor and a supplier for mobile phones, and now a server-market ally through its Centriq processor. Samsung also builds its own Exynos processors and other components for phones and tablets.

The new 10nm process employs the same overall architecture as the Samsung 14nm technology, but it uses taller FinFETs that occupy a smaller footprint. As a result, it’s about 63% denser than the prior generation, putting it a third of a node ahead of Intel’s 14nm. Samsung claims the technology enables 27% greater speed than the previous generation while using the same power; we expect it is still slower than Intel’s highly optimized 14nm process, but it handily beats the 16nm node at TSMC.

Overall, Samsung’s 10nm process should be similar to TSMC’s 10nm, but it will be eclipsed by Intel’s 10nm. Reaching production at least two quarters ahead of these rivals, however, will give the Samsung Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon chips an edge in smartphone SoCs and will enable Centriq to more effectively compete against the Intel Xeon line.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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