When Samsung introduced earlier this 12 months that it had began quantity manufacturing of chips utilizing its 3GAE (3nm-class, gate-all-around early) course of know-how, it by no means revealed what sort of parts it made on its modern node. Because it seems, Samsung makes use of 3GAE to fab an application-specific built-in circuit (ASIC) for cryptocurrency mining.
Samsung 3GAE fabrication know-how is the business’s first course of that depends on gate-all-around (GAA) transistors which Samsung calls MBCFETs (multi-bridge channel field-effect transistors). GAA transistor structure reduces leakage present because the gate is now surrounded by the channel throughout all 4 sides; it additionally permits alteration of transistor efficiency and energy consumption by adjusting the channel’s thickness of the channel(s). GAAFETs are notably helpful for high-performance and cell purposes, which is why firms like Intel and TSMC are working laborious to make use of them in 2024 – 2025.
Nevertheless it appears to be like like the primary business chip to make use of GAAFETs is a cryptocurrency mining ASIC, in accordance with TrendForce. The corporate will produce cell system-on-chips utilizing the 3GAE fabrication course of solely subsequent 12 months, analysts from TrendForce imagine.
Cryptocurrency mining chips are good automobiles to pipe clear a brand new manufacturing know-how as they’re comparatively easy, small, and include quite a few comparable models and constructions that can be utilized for redundancy to attain acceptable yields. In contrast, cell SoCs combine a great deal of fully totally different components that use totally different transistor constructions, making it unattainable to construct redundant models. That mentioned, it’s logical for Samsung to make use of crypto-mining ASICs to be taught extra concerning the efficiency, energy, and defect density of its 3GAE node. Subsequently, SMIC additionally used a MinerVa mining ASIC to check its 7nm-class node.
Whereas Samsung is often formally forward of TSMC and Intel with all-new nodes, in lots of instances, comparable chips made at TSMC can run quicker and attain increased yields. Maybe, the corporate units too aggressive objectives that can not be achieved concurrently. Nonetheless, it appears to be like like Samsung’s 3GAE is sweet sufficient to fabricate cryptocurrency mining ASICs with cell SoCs typically coming later.
When precisely is maybe a extra necessary query, as Samsung often introduces its all-new SoCs for its flagship smartphones early within the 12 months. Utilizing its 3GAE node to make a complicated SoC can be helpful for its smartphones, although it appears to be like like 3GAE will not be prepared to fulfill Samsung’s schedule for its next-generation Galaxy S handset.