Samsung overtakes TSMC and Intel by starting to manufacture 10nm processors
Next year we will start to see 10nm processors in mobile phones, and Intel said it would start launching its Cannonlake processors sometime between mid-to-late 2017, having already opened factories, but not having started producing these chips. TSMC, on the other hand, said it would start manufacturing them later this year.
Therefore, Samsung becomes the first manufacturer of processors to start production of these with a size of 10 nanometer FinFET. In principle, this manufacturing size would be taken advantage of by the high-end processors that we will see next year for mobile phones, like the own-produced Exynos 8895 or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830.
10nm on the Exynos 8895 and Snapdragon 830
Both processors will be manufactured by Samsung, so it would be normal for Samsung to follow the tradition and mount both processors in its next Galaxy S8 that will be announced at the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, which would make sense since Samsung carries several years doing this.
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Samsung further claims that 10-nanometer processors outperform those of 14 nanometers (using the acclaimed Snapdragon 820) in that your performance is 27% higher with 40% lower consumption. These numbers are to be expected, since the size reduction allows 30% more transistors to be accommodated, and the number of chips per wafer is increased in the manufacturing process, making it more efficient and faster.
The reduction in manufacturing size is thus approaching its physical limits, and Samsung claims that it has taken special care in manufacturing these processors thanks to a method they have called as ‘triple pattern’, which consists of drawing the circuits three times on the wafers instead of one, in order to maximize accuracy. This process has significantly helped the production of these processors, according to Samsung.
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Also on other mobile processors, but later
Another processor that will be manufactured in a 10 nanometer process by TSMC will be the Mediatek Helio X30, which will be launched in the middle of next year, and which will be used by high-end Chinese phones that want to maintain an affordable price, so it would be quite normal to see it in a Xiaomi terminal as a replacement for the Xiaomi Redmi Pro or the Redmi Note 4.
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The 10 nanometers arrive a year late due to the complexity of their manufacture, and We’ll see if it doesn’t take us more than two years to start seeing 7-nanometer processors, which will be the next step. TSMC says it will start manufacturing them in 2018, but as we have seen, it would not be uncommon for them to be delayed.