Report: Samsung takes huge step towards 7nm chip production

By | 6th April 2018

  • Samsung has reportedly finished the development of the 7nm chip process and has begun to prepare its lines for production.
  • 7nm chips are faster and use less power than existing chips.
  • The first 7nm chip to be produced by Samsung is expected to be the Snapdragon 855.


Samsung has reportedly completed development on the process required to build 7nm chips. It is now said to be preparing to begin production of these chips on the S3 line at its Hwaseong plant. According to Sedaily, work was finished on the 7nm process last month and the engineers responsible have begun to work on the 5nm process.

The article goes on to say that Samsung has shared the design database necessary for sample production with potential customers, including Qualcomm. The upcoming Snapdragon 855 will be reportedly produced using Samsung’s 7nm line and that production will begin at the end of this year or, at the latest, early next year.

The Snapdragon 855 will be 5G-capable, and, apparently, 40 percent faster and require 35 percent less battery power to operate than existing chips. It is expected that the Galaxy S10 will be among the first phones to use this chip.

The Galaxy S9 uses the Snapdragon 845 or the Exynos 9810 chipsets, depending on where it was purchased. Both these chipsets were built using a 10nm process.

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When used in relation to chips, nm refers to the half-pitch measurement of nodes in a chip. The closer these nodes are together, the denser the processor. This allows chips with a smaller half-pitch measurement to be faster while using less power. The slimmer chip can also help make room for larger batteries or devices with slimmer designs.

Naturally, 7nm chipsets are more difficult and more expensive to produce than larger sizes. However, Samsung has been investing billions in facilities that could be used to construct 7nm chipsets.

Samsung’s 7nm manufacturing process uses a technology called Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV). Sedaily suggests that one EUV machine costs 200 billion Korean won (around 187 million USD) and requires a lot of skill to operate. EUV isn’t necessary for the production of 7nm chips — Samsung’s main rivals, GlobalFoundries and TSMC, will instead use immersion lithography for their 7nm processes. But investing in EUV technology can be seen as a smart move by Samsung, as EUV allows for superior etching at smaller sizes. This becomes crucial as chip makers look to move beyond 7nm towards smaller chips.

Next up: Beyond 7nm – the race to 4nm is Samsung’s to lose.