Samsung will expand the production capacity of legacy nodes

Samsung has made a high-profile semiconductor expansion plan in 2021, saying that it will invest $151.5 billion in the construction of fabs in the next ten years, and introduce a new GAAFET full-surround gate transistor process at the 3nm process node, plan to mass-produce the first-generation 3nm process in the first half of 2022 and mass-produce the second-generation 3nm process in 2023. Samsung hopes to shorten the distance with the leader TSMC by increasing production capacity and speeding up the research and development of process technology.

Samsung increase chip price

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When discussing Samsung’s semiconductor manufacturing technology, the focus will be on advanced process nodes, such as 3nm/4nm/5nm processes. In fact, the gap between Samsung and TSMC is not only in advanced process technology but also in the production capacity of legacy nodes and related supply chain support. According to Business Korea, Samsung is considering building its own chip testing and packaging plant to better provide a full range of services to partners. Samsung also intends to improve older processes to improve performance and cost competitiveness, while expanding capacity at legacy process nodes for making chips such as CMOS image sensors (CIS).

Last year, Samsung introduced the 17LPV process for CIS, DDI, and MCU at the “Samsung Foundry Forum 2021” forum event, that is, the 17nm process of Low Power Value. As a derivative process of 28nm, the FinFET process technology used in the 14nm process is added to the original process, enjoying new technical advantages at a relatively low cost. Compared with the original 28nm process, the chip area can be reduced by 43%, the performance can be improved by 39% or the power consumption can be reduced by 49%.

It is rumored that Samsung plans to have more than 300 customers in its foundry business by 2026. In contrast, TSMC is expected to have more than 500 customers in 2022, while Samsung only exceeds 100, a difference of five times. At present, in TSMC’s revenue, advanced technology and legacy technology account for about half, and Samsung’s advanced technology accounts for most of the revenue. In addition, Samsung’s chip manufacturing in the automotive and artificial intelligence fields is still in its infancy, which will be the key to whether its foundry can continue to grow in the future.