3nm chips: Samsung wins back Nvidia, Qualcomm, IBM and more


A competitive foundry business revitalizes the market. Samsung is said to have convinced some industry giants with its new 3 nm solution and to use the Korean production lines again and in the future. That would be a good sign for the industry.

The timing of the message couldn't be more appropriate. Because while the excitement about the high prices of TSMC's N3 process has not yet subsided, which are so flat rate but not for everyone as the matter is far more complex, the message comes from South Korea that Samsung is attracting new and old customers for their 3- nm solution.

Former major customers could return

In the past, Samsung was already considered the cheaper foundry, but with the catch that they didn't have the best product. This is exactly the step Samsung wants to take with the first process based on Gate All Around (GAA). Here, too, the start was once again quite bumpy, a low yield a well-known problem. It was precisely this yield rate for finished products that did not meet a certain target that had recently led to a strong migration – to TSMC. In addition to Nvidia, this was particularly evident in Qualcomm, who were disappointed with Samsung's best processes. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is again based on TSMC instead of Samsung.

Exactly these two companies, Nvidia and Qualcomm, are named as customers for Samsung's new process, alongside IBM and the Chinese industry giant Baidu. GPUs, SoCs, CPUs and chips for the AI ​​​​area are mentioned for the orders of the respective groups. However, these should first be prepared and finalized in the coming year, so that they will be available in large numbers from 2024.

Samsung 3GAP versus TSMC N3E in 2024

In 2024 it would be optimized 3 nm process from Samsung – but it is also from TSMC. Their first 3 nm solution N3 suffers from a complex design process and small bonuses compared to the currently used and highly optimized 5 nm solution N4 and N4P, which is why TSMC directly submits the significantly improved version N3E. This should be ready for mass production by the end of 2023. It is similar at Samsung, where an improved version compared to 3GAE alias 3GAP will be available from 2024. It is likely that Samsung's foundry customers are targeting this process.

Foundry plans to 2027 (Image: Samsung via Twitter)