Samsung Foundry had began the preliminary manufacturing of chips utilizing its 3GAE fabrication course of, the corporate introduced (opens in new tab) at this time. The brand new 3GAE (3nm-class gate-all-around early) manufacturing expertise is ready to enhance efficiency, lower down energy consumption, and improve transistor density. Nonetheless, to take action, early designs should be tailor-made for the node, which primarily implies that 3nm GAA shouldn’t be for everybody simply but.
“Samsung Electronics, the world chief in semiconductor expertise, at this time introduced that it has began preliminary manufacturing of its 3-nanometer (nm) course of node making use of Gate-All-Round (GAA) transistor structure,” the assertion from the corporate reads.
Samsung manufacturers its 3GAE gate-all-around field-effect transistors (GAAFETs) as multi-bridge channel field-effect transistors (MBCFETs). The transistors’ decreased leakage present is among the key options, because the gate is now surrounded by the channel throughout all 4 sides. One other benefit is that thickness of the channel(s) might be regulated to spice up efficiency and/or decrease energy consumption. In concept, that is what 3GAE is all about, however it is not that easy.
Primarily based on the press launch by Samsung Foundry (SF), its 3GAE course of can scale back the facility consumption of a chip by as much as 45% on the identical density and frequency. It could actually enhance efficiency by 23%, given the identical complexity and clocks, and scale back an IC space by 16% (assuming the identical chip) in comparison with SF’s 5nm-class nodes (we presume 5LPP).
Beforehand the corporate in contrast its 3GAE manufacturing node to its personal 7LPP course of, and the PPA (energy, efficiency, space) numbers have been by much more spectacular, however this time round, we appear to be speaking a few very particular case. Here’s a quote from Samsung:
“As well as, the design flexibility of GAA is very advantageous for Design Expertise Co-Optimization (DTCO), which helps enhance Energy, Efficiency, Space (PPA) advantages. In comparison with 5nm course of, the first-generation 3nm course of can scale back energy consumption by as much as 45%, enhance efficiency by 23% and scale back space by 16% in comparison with 5nm, whereas the second-generation 3nm course of is to cut back energy consumption by as much as 50%, enhance efficiency by 30% and scale back space by 35%.”
This particular case is named DTCO, and for these of us watching AMD (earlier than it went fabless in 2009) and Intel intently, it is extremely acquainted: DTCO is the strategy of tailoring the usual cells and circuits of a chip design to the capabilities of a sure course of expertise to maximise efficiency, decrease energy, and scale back prices. The facility, efficiency, and space benefit numbers that Samsung Foundry mentions for 3GAE already contemplate these optimizations, which might be typical for the corporate’s Early nodes. These applied sciences are usually geared toward Samsung at massive, and likewise embrace sure early adopters searching for a specific profit out of the PPA equation and prepared to spend money on DTCO.
DTCO is a really costly endeavor, and only a few firms are prepared to spend money on it. Within the case of Samsung (at massive), its Samsung LSI (chip improvement division) is one such buyer. And but opposite to the corporate’s assertion from late April about ‘mass manufacturing’ on GAA 3nm course of, Samsung now solely says it has entered into ‘preliminary manufacturing.’
The ‘preliminary manufacturing’ time period might be interpreted otherwise (i.e., an early begin of mass manufacturing, when the primary wafers are simply getting into the pipeline). However a promising signal is that Samsung’s digital design automation (EDA) instruments companions — Ansys, Cadence, Siemens, and Synopsys — are prepared with their software program supporting 3nm GAA nodes (which at present contains 3GAE and 3GAP processes, with the latter anticipated in 2023).
But regardless of the place precisely Samsung’s 3GAE is by way of quantity manufacturing, Samsung Foundry might be formally branded because the world’s first producer of chips that includes gate-all-around transistors.