SAMSUNG HAS GIVEN ITSELF a good talk in the mirror and got its EUV-based 7-nanometre LPP process up and running for cranking out chips.
If your first reaction is 'huh?', we don't blame you. So let's dust of the jargon buster for those of you who are not au fait with chip lithography.
EUV stands for extreme ultraviolet, which is used in Samsung's new "revolutionary process node", which uses EUV rays to essentially create the circuit on silicon. That process involves etching transistors to form processors circuits onto a silicon wafer.
Normally argon fluoride immersion tech is used for chip lithography. But Samsung is touting the advantages of EUV in cutting down the number of masks needed to allow for the stencilling of transistors on silicon in a certain pattern, and thus cuts down on the time and costs of producing chips.
In some ways, EUV is the golden goose of chip making, but it has been complicated to get working at scale. Samsung seems to have worked out how to do exactly that.
EUV also has allowed Samsung to get its chip fabrication process down to the 7nm level; competitively Intel is still stuck on the 14nm process, and Samsung seems to have stolen the lead on some other chip makers. Though TSMC produced 7nm chips for Apple's A12 Bionic and the Huawei's Kirin 980.
"This fundamental shift in how wafers are manufactured gives our customers the opportunity to significantly improve their products' time to market with superior throughput, reduced layers, and better yields. We're confident that 7LPP will be an optimal choice not only for mobile and HPC, but also for a wide range of cutting-edge applications," said Charlie Bae, executive vice president of foundry sales and marketing at Samsung.
LPP is more straightforward and stands for Low Power Plus. The tech means Sammy can produce transistor-stuffed slices of silicon that don't guzzle power like that one mate of yours who attacks the buffet with unbridled gusto at every party you go to.
With the new process tech, Samsung envisions creating powerful but energy-efficient chips for use in powering 5G infrastructure, artificial intelligence systems, and data centre workloads, as well as for slotting into internet of things systems and devices, and cars that make heavy uses of connected tech.
So the 7nm chips it will make won't challenge Intel or AMD in the PC processor arena, but they could shake things up for other chip makers in the mobile and networking world, such as Qualcomm.
Samsung will need industry partners who want to make use of cutting-edge chip fabrication, but it looks like its 7LPP process in a shot of innovation in the processor world and could keep Moore's Law ticking along for a little longer. µ
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