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Samsung Electronics becomes world's first to begin mass production of 3-nanometer chips Updated: 2022-07-06 17:04:23 KST

Advances in nanotechnology have also been applied to semiconductors.
Efforts to lead the field of chips have become vital for many countries as the sector is also linked to national and economic security.
For more on the latest developments on semiconductors, we have our business correspondent Eum Ji-young here in the studio.
Welcome Ji-young.

Good Evening Mokyeon.

Now, the semiconductor industry is entering a critical new chapter with South Korea's tech giant Samsung Electronics kicking off its mass production of 3-nanometer technology chips. Can you explain further.

Right Mokyeon, as you said, Samsung Electronics has become the world's first to start mass producing chips with 3-nanometer technology.
First let me illustrate just how small a nanometer is.
The width of a human hair is 100-thousand nanometers and a strand of DNA about is about 2.5 nanometers.
So you can imagine how small the circuits are on Samsung's 3-nanometer technology chips.
They're the chips we've seen during U.S. President Joe Biden's tour of Samsung's chip plant in May to strengthen the technology alliance between Seoul and Washington.

(ENGLISH- ) May 20,2022
"I've just seen how this plant makes the most advanced semiconductor chips in the world. They are a wonder of innovation and design precision and manufacturing."

Global attention was drawn to Samsung's chip technology as leaders of South Korea and the U.S. signed their names on wafers of 3-nanometer chips.
It was only a prototype back then but it's now in mass production.
The head of Samsung's foundry business says Samsung has been enjoying continuous growth by applying new technologies. Take a listen.

"Samsung Electronics has grown rapidly as we continue to apply new technologies. We will continue active innovation in competitive technology development and build processes that help us achieve maturity of technology faster."


So Ji-young, could this technology become a game changer in the global race to create the most advanced chips? What are some of its features?

Mokyeon, it is currently the most advanced technology for installing the smallest circuits on chips.
When semiconductors are made, tiny intricate circuits are built on thin wafers made with silicon.
An expert says smaller circuits can lead to a lower production cost.

"The significance of 3-nanometer technology is that more fine circuits can be inscribed on a wafer which means more chips per wafer, leading to a lower production cost."

Also with this technology, Samsung applied a new structure, its so-called Gate-All-Around transistor architecture, to produce chips that are more powerful and efficient.
Compared to the conventional 5-nanometer chip-making process, it can reduce power consumption by up to 45 percent and can also improve performance by 23 percent.
Also, the chips are 16 percent smaller.
Another expert says this processing technology will help Samsung gain more customers.

"All smartphone companies upgrade their models once a year and they demand better performance. If smaller chips can be developed, more can be fitted into a device which in turn will lead to better performance. Then companies which only design chips including Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Intel can't help but place an order first to the foundry with the most advanced technology."

Can Samsung's move to be the first to introduce the latest technology - help it gain ground in the foundry market?

Well Mokyeon, the expert says that by becoming the first in the world to reach 3 nanometers, the Korean tech giant is hoping to gain new clients ahead of its Taiwanese rivalTSMC in foundry or contract chip manufacturing.

"Until now, the rival company TSMC has been taking the lead in terms of technology. But Samsung's latest 3-nanometer process has proven that Samsung has gained technology dominance. This can be an opportunity to attract more customers."

Samsung currently is the largest player in the global memory chip market but it holds the second place in the foundry market.
According to market tracker TrendForce, the South Korean tech giant takes up about 16 percent of the share in the foundry market.
Its Taiwanese competitor accounts for more than half of the global foundry business by revenue.
Another expert says Samsung should minimize defective products to secure customers as Samsung and TSMC are competing for large multi-year orders from customers such as Qualcomm and Apple.

"Production of a semiconductor takes about four months. During the initial production, the proportion of non-defective products is low at 30 to 50 percent but it will improve with more production.
Thus, the starting point for mass production is very important as it helps gain time ahead of any competitors. TSMC is planning to start production of 3-nanometer chips at the end of this year. So it is six months behind."

Samsung's advance comes during a sensitive time where both the U.S. and China are trying to expand their chipmaking capacity. So geopolitical pressure is also likely to affect the competition as well.


We'll have to see how this all unfolds once TSMC unveils it's own 3-nanometer technology in the coming months.
Ji-young, thank you for your thorough reporting today.

Thank you
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