Beyond 10 nm at Samsung: 8 nm and 6 nm

Samsung’s 7 nm manufacturing technology is still expected to be the company’s first process to use extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) for high-volume manufacturing (HVM) and that is going to happen sometimes in 2019 or later (risk production starts in the second half of 2018). In fact, the next several years down the road is where things will start to get interesting as Samsung announced another two new production technologies it has not talked about before: the 8 nm and the 6 nm processes.

Industry FinFET Lithography Roadmap, HVM Start
Data announced by companies during conference calls, press briefings and in press releases
  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
1H 2H 1H 2H 1H 2H 1H 2H
GlobalFoundries 14LPP 7nm DUV 7nm with EUV*
Intel 14 nm
14 nm+
14 nm++
10 nm
10 nm+
10 nm++
Samsung 14LPP
7LPP 6 nm* (?)
SMIC 28 nm** 14 nm in development
CLN7FF+ 5 nm* (?)
UMC 28 nm** 14nm no data
*Exact timing not announced

Officially, Samsung says that both technologies will offer “greater scalability, performance and power advantages when compared to existing process nodes,” which obviously means that they are across the board better than Samsung’s current-gen 14 nm and 10 nm offerings. What is important is that Samsung also says that the “8 nm and the 6 nm will inherit all innovations from the latest 10 nm and the 7 nm technologies” respectively. This means that the 8 nm is set to keep using DUV and multi patterning (triple patterning or even quad patterning to be exact, but Samsung has not confirmed usage of the latter) for critical layers, whereas the 6 nm will come after 7 nm and will be Samsung’s second-generation EUV technology.

The only thing that Samsung confirms about its 8LPP manufacturing technology right now is the fact that this is a DUV-based process technology designed to shrink die size (i.e., increase transistor density) and frequency compared to the 10LPP fabrication process. Given the name of the technology and its key advertised advantages over direct predecessor, it is highly likely that the 8LPP will be used to make high-performance SoCs in 2019.

Since Samsung plans to start risk production using the 7LPP in the second half of 2018, the technology is hardly going to be used for high-volume manufacturing before the second half of 2019. Keeping in mind that Samsung now begins HVM using its leading-edge process technologies in October, it is possible that it is going to kick-off 7LPP HVM in fall 2019, but the 8LPP will be Samsung’s most advanced process technology for the better part of the year. Samsung does not mention timeframes for its 6 nm process technology and what to expect from it, but it is logical to assume that it will require more layers to be processed using ASML's EUV tools (like the NXE:3350B pictured above) in a bid to provide PPA advantages and it not be used for high-volume manufacturing before late 2020.

In March, Samsung only made brief announcements regarding its 10LPU, 8LPP and 6 nm process technology without disclosing their exact specifications or even PPA improvements targets. The addition of at least two more DUV technologies (the 10LPU and the 8LPP) in general may indicate that EUV may not be the best choice for all applications in 2019 – 2021, which is perfectly logical. Then again, we do not know how DUV and EUV technologies will co-exist early in the EUV era.

We are going to learn more about Samsung’s plans in the foundry industry in late May, when the company hosts its 2017 U.S Samsung Foundry Forum. So, we will have to wait for a couple of months for Samsung to disclose the whole picture regarding its upcoming process technologies.

Beyond 10 nm at TSMC: 7 nm DUV and 7 nm EUV Not Everyone Needs Leading Edge: 22 nm ULP, 12 nm FFC and 12 nm FFC+
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Hulk - Friday, May 5, 2017 - link

    Yeah it's called "Assembly." We'll have come full circle. In the beginning it was assembly because processors were so slow. And it appears the end it will also be Assembly as processor power stalls. Kind of fitting. I used to program in Assembly on my Atari 800 back in 1982.
  • vladx - Friday, May 5, 2017 - link

    Not sure if serious, Assembly can work for small to medium projects, but not really big ones.
  • patrickjp93 - Friday, May 5, 2017 - link

    Roller Coaster Tycoon was programmed 100% in assembly, and that is not a medium-sized project.
  • vladx - Friday, May 5, 2017 - link

    Only the first 2 RCT games were wwritten in assembly and both had only 2d graphics so it was mostly game logic which doesn't take much code. So yes, I would call that a mid-sized project.
  • mapesdhs - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link

    I once wrote an entire word processor in 68K, it worked very well (students ended up using it instead of the Uni-supplied program). People make false assumptions about coding in assembly. Beyond a certain point in complexity, its use becomes more like a high level language, ie. setting parameters and calling procedures & functions. Just the natural way one solves problems in a structured manner brings this about. Assembler doesn't inherantly lend itself to structured programming, but it doesn't have to; it's not hard to use it in a way that makes up for such issues, ie. a long as the design process itself is structured. I found it to be the best of both worlds, getting at the raw metal but also being able to focus on higher level design issues. Easily the most fun project I ever worked on, and the largest printed listing the uni in question had ever received at the time. :D (took 2.5 hours to print out)
  • prisonerX - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    Yeah, Roller Coaster Tycoon was written in 1999, nearly 20 years ago.

    Welcome to the 21st century, you might want to look around, some things have changed.
  • prisonerX - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    Uh, no. A compiler like GCC or LLVM will beat hand coded assembly every time on modern processors, without fail, unless you're talking about tiny or specialized code (say, bootloaders).

    The mistake you're making could be characterised as "premature optimisation" on a grand scale. You think if you tweak every bit of code and write it in assembly you'll get something more efficient. Sorry to break it to you, but you won't. Good structure (this includes choice of data structures and algorithms) is a greater influence on code than tweaking, if you're talking about anything of a reasonable and practical size.
  • Kevin G - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    The general rule of thumb is that hand coded assembly will be used in critical loops to accelerate portions of code that compilers like GCC or LLVM produce.

    You're not wrong about data structures and algorithm choice but in the light of smart decisions there, assembly is the next level of optimization. Assembler can't fix GIGO.
  • amosbatto - Monday, May 21, 2018 - link

    I doubt that assembly will come into vogue, but a whole new generation of compiled languages are appearing which are designed for speed and low resource consumption: Rust, Julia, Swift, Go and NIM. These languages have performance which is slightly slower than C, but without its security problems, so I expect them to be widely used in the future as the hardware stops getting faster.
  • Meteor2 - Friday, May 5, 2017 - link

    More to come from ISA developments, too. Maybe not huge amounts but definitely some -- SVE for example.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now