Science Technology

Depth | Advanced Manufacturing Process at Sanchakou starring: TSMC, Samsung, AMD

In many cases, what is revealed in the history book is not the best and most intelligent, but only the surviving… Is the history of semiconductor technology nodes the same?
Although the end of Moore’s Law may be a false proposition in the face of the future, the semiconductor industry will continue to move forward, but it is increasingly difficult to reduce the size only, and can only find a new way, and new packaging, new materials and new architecture will play the role of “baton”.
Author | Fang Wen
Picture source | Network
AI Core World | Depth | Advanced Manufacturing Process at Three Crossroads starring: TSMC, Samsung, AMD
The high cost of 3nm needs to be smoothed
① Building an advanced chip manufacturing process production line requires not only a lot of upfront investment, but also high maintenance costs in the production process. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the full operation of the product line to ensure the profitability of the advanced chip manufacturing process as much as possible.
② The 3nm process faces problems such as the complexity of chip design and the soaring cost of wafer foundry, and the EUV lithography machine has a record high procurement cost, and the output throughput has slowed down, which may push up the quotation of 3nm wafer foundry to 30000 dollars.
③ The 3nm chip packaging technology will be fully introduced into mass production. At the same time, with the increase of 3nm process technology and cost, the chiplet stacking and packaging technology will also be widely spread, and the cost and energy need to be invested.
④ Because the advanced packaging is in the micron level, but the current manufacturing process has already entered the nanometer level, the cost of manufacturing equipment is a challenge, and the size of wire width and time consumption are both cost issues.
AI Core World | Depth | Advanced Manufacturing Process at Three Crossroads starring: TSMC, Samsung, AMD
TSMC: Apple is still the core, reducing costs with investment
Apple has cooperated with TSMC for more than ten years. Up to now, Apple is still the largest customer of TSMC, accounting for a quarter of TSMC’s total revenue of US $48.08 billion in 2020.
According to a customer order data of TSMC, Apple obtained 24.2% of TSMC’s capacity in 2020, and this figure has reached 25.4% in 2021.
This year, it is expected that Apple will still account for more than 50% of TSMC’s 5nm capacity. In the future, when TSMC officially provides customers with 3nm node technology, the situation will not change.
In the latest chip circuit diagram released by Apple, Apple expects to release the third-generation M-series chip based on 3nm in 2023, and still chooses TSMC’s 3nm process.
20% of TSMC’s $10 billion investment this year is mainly used for advanced packaging and special manufacturing processes. Its great success in technology such as InFO and CoWoS has promoted the manufacturing industry, packaging and testing industry and substrate enterprises to invest a lot of manpower and material resources to carry out innovative research and development of 3D fan-out technology.
TSMC’s 3nm process still uses the FinFET transistor architecture. Its main advantages are that it can give full play to the excellent optical capability of EUV technology, as well as the expected yield performance, reduce mask defects and process stack errors, and reduce the overall cost.
In order to improve the cost, TSMC has specially formulated an EUV improvement plan, improved the design of EUV lithography machine, and introduced advanced packaging, so that more customers are willing to adopt the 3nm process.
In addition, TSMC is expected to launch the EUV Continuous Improvement Program (CIP), which aims to increase the chip size and reduce the number of channels used by EUV masks.
AI Core World | Depth | Advanced Manufacturing Process at Three Crossroads starring: TSMC, Samsung, AMD
Samsung: catch up with TSMC from the time of mass production
Samsung’s layout planning in the 3nm chip manufacturing process is earlier than that of TSMC, and the process process perfection is also higher than that of TSMC.
Samsung is likely to be the first chip foundry to produce the 3nm process in batches, thus gaining the upper hand in the competition with TSMC.
Due to the close relationship between TSMC and Apple, it is estimated that Apple’s new iPhone and notebook computer processors will give priority to TSMC’s 3nm process, which may cause AMD to be dissatisfied with TSMC and turn to Samsung’s 3nm process.
Samsung will spend $17 billion to build a wafer factory in Tyler, Texas, to produce advanced process chips such as mobile devices, 5G, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence. It is expected to start construction in the first half of 2022 and mass production in the second half of 2024.
Samsung Electronics also recently announced to set up a factory in the United States, mainly in the hope that the United States will resolve the trade war between Japan and South Korea. American manufacturers are also happy to see Samsung set up a factory in the United States, which is equivalent to an alternative solution.
TSMC and Samsung compete fiercely in advanced manufacturing process and overseas layout. Samsung is currently in the lead in the investment scale of new plants in the United States, aiming to surpass TSMC in the 3nm mass production schedule. It is said that Qualcomm, AMD and other TSMC heavyweight customers are interested in introducing Samsung 3nm process.
Samsung’s seemingly strong attack actually hides a crisis. Building a wafer factory overseas is also a helpless move to expand customer sources.
Today, due to the great technical difficulty of the 3nm process, Samsung’s American factory, also known as the wafer factory in Austin, Texas, may not be able to officially mass produce before 2023. For Samsung, which strives to catch up with and surpass TSMC, the pressure is still not small.
However, from the perspective of Samsung 3nm GAA’s goal planning, it has a certain lead over TSMC in terms of time and product efficiency, which has a significant advantage in attracting more customers in the market and in its long-term development.
Although Samsung’s GAA has advantages in performance, as a new architecture, it needs to develop corresponding EDA tools and new IP. It has also revealed that there are key technical problems such as leakage, and ultimately depends on the efficiency and yield after measurement.
At the recent Samsung Advanced OEM System Forum, Samsung officially announced that 12 partners have cooperated in depth. When the news of Qualcomm’s intention to cooperate with AMD came out, it was more like adding fire to Samsung’s 3nm layout.
In Samsung’s latest plan, it will expand the production line of ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology in South Korea. This technology uses extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 13.5 nm, which can produce more precise and clearer circuits, so that the chip can carry more components and greatly improve the computing ability and efficiency.
AI Core World | Depth | Advanced Manufacturing Process at Three Crossroads starring: TSMC, Samsung, AMD
AMD: The rumor of transferring orders is becoming more and more true
In recent years, AMD has become the second largest customer of TSMC in terms of 7nm and 5nm.
Unsurprisingly, the company’s next-generation Zen 5 architecture EPYC Turin processor will also use TSMC’s 3nm process.
However, since Samsung announced the 3nm manufacturing process plan, the market has constantly heard that Qualcomm and AMD are willing to adopt it. In addition to Samsung’s ability to provide a full range of services from design to production, its relatively low OEM quotation is definitely the reason why Qualcomm and AMD are excited.
Although AMD has always regarded TSMC as the main foundry, it has always hoped that a second foundry could share the cost, especially Intel has now chosen TSMC for foundry.
Based on the good cooperation relationship in recent years, as well as the improvement of the difficulty and risk level of the 3nm process, it is also reasonable for AMD to have an alternative chip OEM manufacturer.
AI Core World | Depth | Advanced Manufacturing Process at Three Crossroads starring: TSMC, Samsung, AMD
The 3nm process is expected to significantly change the relationship between manufacturers in various links of the process technology, chip architecture, packaging and industrial chain, thus driving the chip industry into an unprecedented stage of development.
However, regardless of whether it is 3nm or 2nm, the process will eventually reach a fateful end.
The competition of 3nm is still going on. Until the 3nm chips are officially introduced in the market, everything is just a dark tide.
Some data references: semiconductor industry observation: “The” three forks “of advanced manufacturing process”, Supernet: “Analysis indicates that Samsung’s advanced technology will face many difficulties, and AMD has a reason for its excitement about its 3nm technology”, iJiwei APP: “The squid game” on advanced manufacturing process: Samsung’s “crazy”? “, semiconductor industry vertical and horizontal:” The decisive battle! 3nm manufacturing process – who will be the first to cross the finish line between Samsung and TSMC? “