Foundry leader TSMC announced that the 5nm advanced process has entered mass production in the second quarter of this year, and Samsung at the other end is also closely following.
According to the latest research results of TrendForce's Top Industry Research Institute, it is estimated that in the third quarter of this year, TSMC will still lead the global foundry market with more than half of the market share, with a market share of 53.9%, and an annual growth rate of 21%. Samsung It ranked second with 17.4% and an annual growth rate of 4%. Although it was slightly lower than the 18.8% in the first quarter, Tuo Dai believes that it is mainly due to the poor sales of the Galaxy S20. If the smartphone market in the second half of the year Can win back a city, the market share performance still has a chance to bite TSMC.
Since the 5nm process is expected to be mass-produced before the end of the year, and according to foreign media reports, in addition to its own products, Qualcomm will also place orders for some products such as Snapdragon X60 at Samsung’s 5nm, which is a strong boost to Samsung’s advanced manufacturing process. Heart needle. At the moment when Intel's process is stuck, only TSMC and Samsung are left on the road to advanced process, and they continue to work hard to break through Moore's Law.
"TSMC will still be afraid of Samsung." Wu Jinrong, general manager of Microdrive Technology, who has long been concerned about the semiconductor industry, believes that TSMC's inner concerns are not due to the current process progress, but Samsung has the spirit of Korean fighting, as in the past. The 3-nanometer architecture is also the first to be called out by Samsung to change the current FinFET (fin transistor) to GAA (gate full loop).
The outside world predicts that this move is to rescue the reason why Samsung’s current 7nm and 5nm yields are low, because the GAA architecture has been found in the laboratory, and its leakage suppression is much better than the FinFET architecture. If it can be effectively controlled Leakage will help the performance of the chip.
"Digital Times" once interviewed TSMC’s chief scientist Huang Hansen. Regarding the continuation of the FinFET architecture by 3nm, he said that he would not work with Samsung to change to GAA. In addition to issues such as cost and customer IC design connection, TSMC still has the ability to enter the process. At a smaller stage, the original structure is still used and the performance of the product is maintained, showing the technological advantage of the foundry leader.
In addition, Wu Jinrong observed that Samsung’s advanced process development lags behind TSMC. Another reason is that the Samsung Group still needs to develop its memory department, which has dispersed its R&D energy. Moreover, because Samsung is not as specialized in foundry as TSMC, it does not have the ability to quickly adjust its production capacity and meet the needs of various customers for different IC design specifications.
However, Samsung recently announced that it will expand its production lines in the Pyeongtaek Park to produce the most advanced DRAM products, while providing new-generation V-NAND and foundry solutions. The purpose is to consolidate Samsung’s technological leadership in the Industry 4.0 era. Wu Jinrong even pointed out that Samsung currently has about 10 EUV machines in hand, and will actively purchase ASML in the future. "It can be seen that Samsung is still striving for advanced manufacturing."
Even if it is technically a part of TSMC, Samsung already has advanced process technology for energy production and at least has a chance to get orders that TSMC cannot digest.
Liu Peizhen, an analyst at the Taiwan Economic Research Institute, pointed out that even if "the final market share is not much, there is still a chance to obtain orders for the previous generation process technology (such as 7 nanometers) that TSMC cannot accept."
The latest cooperation between NVIDIA and Samsung is an example. NVIDIA recently announced a new generation of graphics chip GeForce RTX 30, which focuses on the high CP value route, behind which is the use of Samsung's 8-nanometer LPP (Low Power Plus) process.
Although it is not the first time NVIDIA has placed an order with Samsung, it is not difficult to guess that Samsung is indeed "quoting" from the fact that NVIDIA is fighting hand-to-hand with its rival AMD and has produced a very competitive product It is quite competitive.
Wu Jinrong analyzed that TSMC has always been relatively strong in price, and Samsung has always been able to grab orders at prices 20-35% lower than TSMC. Qu Jianzhong, the founder of the knowledge expert community, further added that Samsung can first compete with low prices to grab customers, and then gradually adjust the yield performance of the process, as is the case with IBM's order.
Samsung’s biggest fatal injury is that "TSMC will not compete with customers." Wu Jinrong pointed out that Samsung, as an IDM semiconductor company, is also a foundry. If a mobile phone chip IC designer wants to place an order, it will inevitably be worried about the company. Trade secrets were stolen, and this has always been Samsung's cover.
Q2 smashed more than 200 billion capital expenditures, 5nm mass production in the second half of the year
From the perspective of operating results, Samsung Semiconductor's performance cannot be underestimated. In the second quarter of this year’s financial report, Samsung’s semiconductor business consolidated revenue was 18.23 trillion won (approximately 104.5 billion yuan), an increase of 13% over the same period last year; operating profit reached 5.43 trillion won (approximately 31.1 billion yuan), an increase of 2.03% over the same period last year . Semiconductors have become the most profitable link in Samsung's business units, including panels and mobile devices.
On the other hand, the capital expenditure of Samsung Electronics in the second quarter reached 9.8 trillion won (approximately 56.1 billion yuan), of which the semiconductor business accounted for about 88%, 8.6 trillion won (approximately 49.4 billion yuan), mainly invested in the most advanced 5nm and 8nm process, and will actively develop 4nm process technology.
Even the pace of building a new factory has not fallen behind TSMC. When TSMC actively purchased land in Nanke to lay out the production capacity of the next Nanke plant, Samsung was also "daxing civil engineering" in Pyeongtaek and Hwaseong in South Korea.
In May of this year, Samsung announced the official start of construction of its sixth South Korean foundry, located in Pyeongtaek City, which will adopt 5-nanometer process technology. At the same time, Samsung has also set that this plant will also focus on EUV process technology below 5 nanometers in the future. , And is expected to start operations in the second half of 2021, and will become a core manufacturing base for 5G, high-performance computing (HPC) and other solutions.
In addition, after mass production of the first batch of products based on the 7nm EUV process in 2019, Samsung also added a new EUV dedicated V1 production line at the Hwaseong plant in the first half of this year. It is expected to start small quantities of the 5nm process in the second half of this year. When the production line of the Pyeongtaek plant is added in 2021, it will help Samsung's foundry production capacity to be greatly increased.
In addition to building factories, Liu Peizhen also pointed out that when facing whether Moore's Law has reached the limit, heterogeneous integration has become one of the ways to solve Moore's Law. "And Samsung's technology in heterogeneous integration cannot be underestimated. "
Wu Zhiyi, director of the Institute of Electronics and Optoelectronic Systems of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, once pointed out that in the era of artificial intelligence, a large amount of data must be "stored" and "calculated". Most of the current designs separate the CPU and the memory. This will cause additional energy consumption in the transmission of information between the two and affect performance. He believes that heterogeneous integration of CPU and memory will be the next trend.
Samsung not only has foundry technology, but also has memory advantages. Therefore, it has recently introduced a 3D IC packaging technology "X-Cube". According to Samsung’s explanation, this technology uses through-silicon Via (TSV) technology. ), in addition to plugging in more memory and greatly shortening the transmission path of information, it can also speed up data transmission and energy efficiency. It can meet the needs of 5G, AI and even high-performance computing. X-Cube will be available On 7nm and 5nm advanced manufacturing processes.
Not only Samsung, TSMC also launched the "3D Fabric Platform" of the 3D silicon stacking and advanced packaging technology family at this year’s technical forum, including CoWoS, integrated fan-out (InFo) and system integration chip (TSMC-SoIC), etc. The technology that meets customer needs by entering the advanced packaging market through heterogeneous integration.
Zhang Zhongmou, the founder of TSMC, who retired naked in 2018, regarded Samsung as a "fearful opponent." He was interviewed by the media at the end of last year (2019). When referring to his opponent Samsung, he bluntly said: "The war between TSMC and Samsung is definitely not over. We only won one or two battles, and the whole war has not been won yet."
In 2019, Samsung called out to spend 133 trillion won (approximately NT$3.3 trillion) in the development of logic chips and foundry businesses, with the goal of smashing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in 2030 and seizing the throne of the foundry leader. . Is this feasible? Perhaps the three-nanometer conversion architecture is just the beginning, and then not only the next generation, but also the next generation of technology nodes will have to fight hand-to-hand with TSMC. At the same time, semiconductors have produced various new applications with the advent of the 5G era, such as the third generation. Compound semiconductors, etc., are absolutely new tasks for both TSMC and Samsung.
Samsung is still working hard, so how can TSMC easily relax. Everyone is still watching what the outcome of this battle between the two heroes will be.