Samsung on track to start producing advanced 7nm chips in the first half of 2018

Galaxy A5

Samsung has announced that it’s on track to start manufacturing 7nm chips in the first half of 2017. If all goes according to plan, Samsung’s first 7nm chip will likely make its way into the company’s unannounced Galaxy S8 successor.

The move to 7nm is significant because it means Samsung is on track to start producing chips using a technique called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. Without getting into too many of the technical details, perfecting EUV lithography will allow companies like Samsung to produce chips that are 100 times more powerful than the silicon we have today.

The challenge, however, is that EUV lithography represents a radical departure from current chip making techniques. Unlike traditional chip lithography, the ‘light’ used in EUV lithography can’t travel through air and it can’t be focused with traditional optics and mirrors, meaning the scanners used to make such small chips need to be even more advanced and specialized than the scanner we have today.

The company’s current roadmap sees it moving to 6nm, 5nm and 4nm chips in the future.

To date, Samsung says it has successfully fabricated approximately 200,000 wafers using the ultraviolet fabrication method. The company, however, seems confident it will be able to scale the process.

The company’s current roadmap sees it moving to 6nm, 5nm and 4nm chips in the future.

Samsung also announced that it’s ready to start manufacturing mobile chipsets using an 11-nanometer FinFET process.

Not to be confused with the company’s 10-nanometer FinFET process, which Samsung uses to make high-end chipsets like the Exynos 8895 (the chip found in European and Asian variants of the Galaxy S8), the 11nm process represents a lesser scaling down of Samsung’s 14nm process.

According to Samsung, its new 11nm chips will deliver up to 15 percent better performance compared to its older 14nm chips, all while consuming the same amount of power. The new 11nm chips are also up to 10 percent smaller.

Consumers will most likely find Samsung’s 11nm chips in a variety of the company’s own mid- and high-end devices.